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Would-be JP chairman ‘considering options’ as takeover bid hits snag

Christen AgerThe would-be chairman of Johnston Press says he is “considering all types of options” after his planned takeover of the company hit a snag.

HTFP reported last week how Christen Ager-Hanssen, left, is intending to seek the removal of JP’s interim chairman Camilla Rhodes and chief executive Ashley Highfield, installing himself and former Local World boss Steve Auckland in the respective roles instead.

It has been reported he also planned to make two other new appointments to the board – Ash Pournouri, a music industry executive, and Michael Nouril, a partner at the law firm Mishcon de Reya.

However, a clause in JP’s bondholder agreement has now been discovered which means any attempt by Christen to appoint three or more new directors, as had been his intention, would have triggered a change of control meaning the bond would have to be repaid.

Christen’s investment vehicle Custos, which also owns the Swedish version of Metro, is now the second-biggest shareholder in JP with 12.6pc of the group.

He told news agency Reuters: “We are now considering all type of options we have, of course we will talk to all stakeholders in the company. We don’t think the board or the CEO have done anything to build up the company.”

Key to the outcome of any boardroom battle will be the attitude of JP’s largest investor, Crystal Amber, which has an 18pc stake in the publisher.

Crystal Amber fund manager Richard Bernstein told Reuters: “Despite the speculation and press comment, at the moment, there’s no proposal from Custos. If and when there is, we’ll assess it.”

HTFP has asked Christen for further comment, while JP has declined to comment further.


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  • October 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    In my opinion there needs to be a root and branch change. I believe that this board have destroyed once quality papers and ruined lives with redundancy. Wether Hansen can do better is debatable but one thing is clear…the present board must go! The poison pill clause is keeping them in power but it’s just the opposite of the common phrase…’rats abandoning a sinking ship’ …. more like rats clinging on to a sinking ship!!!

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  • October 24, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Much as I’d love to see Mr Highfield out on his ear (though I doubt he’d be unemployed for long, as Mr Auckland’s own example indicates), replacing one cabal of well-heeled dilettantes with another hardly seems like a recipe for soaring success. The phrase ‘Same old p*ss in a different-shaped bottle’ seems, as ever in what’s left of this industry, highly apposite.

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