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Johnston Press agrees to buy Irish newspapers

Johnston Press has agreed to buy a number of Irish newspapers in two separate deals.

Subject to the approval of the Irish Competition Authority and the Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, it is to buy Local Press Limited, which publishes 12 newspapers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and The Leinster Leader Limited, which publishes seven newspapers in the Republic.

Local Press’s titles includes the News Letter, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the English-speaking world, the Derry Journal and the Donegal Democrat.

They had previously been owned by Trinity Mirror before being bought by venture capital group 3i last year.

The deal is worth £65m and Johnston says the purchase is “an attractive and complementary addition” to the Irish titles it recently bought from Scottish Radio Holdings via EMAP.

Ken Beaty, 3i director, said: “The newspaper industry is rapidly consolidating around a small number of large players and we believe this acquisition offers great opportunity for both Local Press and Johnston Press.”

Local Press chairman Alan Cornish added: “3i has been a valued partner over the last 20 months and has given us strong support to develop the business.

“The timing of this sale to Johnston Press is right for both businesses and will create a major force in the regional newspaper sector in Northern Ireland.”

The Leinster Leader is a privately owned company with 27 shareholders.

Its group of companies publish weekly paid-fors the Leinster Leader, Leinster Express, Offaly Express, Dundalk Democrat, Limerick Leader and The Echo, and a paid-for evening newspaper in Limerick which is published three days per week.

Under the terms of the agreement Johnston Press has agreed to acquire The Leinster Leader for an aggregate cash consideration of €138.6m on a debt-free basis.

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