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Johnston Press in talks to sell Suffolk weeklies to Iliffe

newmarketjournalRegional publisher Johnston Press has confirmed it is in talks to sell some of its newspaper titles in East Anglia to Iliffe Media.

The company, which announced earlier this year that it was seeking to offload parts of its local newspaper portfolio, says it is in “late stage discussions” over the disposal of  certain titles.

Although the newspapers in question have not been named, they are thought to include the Suffolk Free Press and the Newmarket Journal.

Both weeklies were listed as “core” assets in a list of Johnston Press titles drawn up in January.

Iliffe Media, which owned the Cambridge News until 2012 and still owns the printing plant on which the paper is printed, recently marked a return to local newspaper publishing with the launch of the weekly Cambridge Independent.

Speculation about the potential deal to buy the Suffolk titles first emerged in yesterday’s edition of the Sunday Times.

JP said in a statement:  “The Board of Johnston Press plc notes the recent media speculation and confirms it is in late stage discussions with Iliffe Media surrounding the potential disposal of certain titles.

“The Company has previously announced that as part of its portfolio review, a number of brands had been identified that were not part of its long-term future and a process has been initiated to explore the potential sale of these assets to identified parties.

“This disposal process is ongoing and a further announcement will be made when appropriate.

“Shareholders are advised that there can be no certainty that the disposal process will lead to any definitive agreements concerning any possible disposals or as to the timing or terms of any such agreements.”

JP originally revealed on 19 January that it was exploring possible asset sales to help fund investment and pay down net debt.

According to a trading update published at the time, titles which could be sold off included those that were outside of selected markets, those that did not match the company’s “audience focus,” and those that did not offer the desired levels of digital growth.

The only deal so far concluded saw the sale of three Isle of Man titles to Tindle Newspapers in July for £4.25m.


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  • November 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

    The JP employees at the various titles being sold to Iliffe must be jumping for joy. At least they’ve got a good chance of keeping their jobs beyond January, 2017.

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  • November 14, 2016 at 10:05 am

    A pincer movement on Suffolk and Norfolk from Cambs by IIliffe looking to increase its foothold in the eastern counties might prompt archant to up its game.
    years of complacency coupled with lack of investment in its print titles while it chased the next big thing /flavour of the month has surely weakened its position leaving themselves open.
    Interesting times

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  • November 14, 2016 at 10:30 am

    More sell-offs to keep the vastly inflated salaries at the top of JP flowing for a while longer! Other than wrecking the company, what does this mob actually do for a living?

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  • November 14, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I thought they were only going to sell off “sub core” titles, yet two of these are said to be core. Does that mean everything JP owns is up for grabs?

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  • November 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Surely that must be an improvement for staff after what JP has done to its not-local-any-more- papers. But changes are always worrying.

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  • November 14, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    as a footnote I was at a social event when we got chatting about my local JP paper. A woman of about 50,a regular reader, said to me : “It was never same once they closed the local office. It lost its soul. I ring them up now and the reporters don’t know what or where I am talking about.” That summed it all up.
    Better for JP to get rid of papers if they don’t care about them.

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  • November 14, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    @ex-Jp sub: The company has quickly found that by listing papers as ‘sub-core’ means that people will not be daft enough to buy them as if they wait long enough JP will just close them anyway and you can move into the market with no competition. See Driffield and Beverley

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  • November 16, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Paperboy. JP have done likewise to every local paper they’ve touched. That woman speaks for every one of the disappearing band of readers across the country. I’ve worked at local level all my life and I’m mystified at their policies. Viva Newsroom of the Future!! (NOT).

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