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Archant rubbishes claims of Newsquest takeover talks

The current signage at Prospect House (above) and an artist’s impression of the proposed change (below)Regional publisher Archant has emphatically denied it is “up for sale” after reports that it has held talks with Newsquest over a potential takeover.

The Norwich-based company says no such discussions have taken place despite claims published in The Guardian yesterday.

The Guardian report surfaced amid mounting speculation about industry consolidation following last week’s announcement that Newsquest is buying the Carlisle-based CN Group.

But Archant today denied that there was any truth in the report, while Newsquest has declined to comment on what it termed “market speculation.”

An Archant spokesman told HTFP: “Archant can confirm that it is not up for sale, nor is it in any discussions with Newsquest.

“It is no surprise though that Archant would be a prized asset for any media group with its strong newspaper, magazine and digital brands, its award-winning innovation and digital developments and strong balance sheet.”

According to the Guardian report, the negotiations with Archant “apparently ended in part due to reticence from Newsquest’s parent Gannett.”

It quoted industry sources as valuing Archant, which publishes four daily newspapers in East Anglia and anti-Brexit national The New European as well as a network of regional magazines, at £40m.

Last week’s CN Group announcement prompted the National Union of Journalists to warn that the UK regional press industry is heading towards a “duopoly” run by Newsquest and Trinity Mirror.

Newsquest has also recently bought independent publisher NWN Media, as well as the Isle of Wight County Press.

A Newsquest spokesman said: “We don’t comment on market speculation.”


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  • February 26, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Taking over everyone Newsquest at the moment, reminds me of that bit in the Simpsons where Bill Gates buys out Homer, walks in and breaks all his pens. The aim seems to be that ‘we know we’re so bad that we look awful compared to the competition – so let’s take them over and make them as bad as us’.

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  • February 26, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    “…..strong newspaper, magazine and digital brands, its award-winning innovation and digital developments and strong balance sheet.”
    That’s what I’d be telling any potential purchase too!
    albeit a long way from the truth as anyone looking st the latest shocking ad sales figures and free falling ABC copy sales numbers wil be able to see for themselves.
    The worrying thing is though that some of the more out of touch ones there actually believe it.
    Good luck NQ is all I can say, s new broom is urgently required even if it is a NQ one

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  • February 26, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Archant has, however, put its Beccles office up for sale for the princely sum of £130,000, so the finances obviously remain tight.
    The £40m valuation must include Prospect House. Sell that and it’s a lot less attractive proposition – especially when you consider that it was announced last year the company pension fund had a deficit of £38m.

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  • February 26, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    “An Archant spokesman told HTFP: “Archant can confirm that it is not up for sale, nor is it in any discussions with Newsquest.”

    Not “has had no discussion with Newsquest”.

    The devil being in the detail.

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  • February 27, 2018 at 6:20 am

    One time sub is correct:
    they’re in dire straits financially, they’ve made it known they want out of the decrepit building in Norwich and have been looking at all other offices with a view to downsizing, the papers are no longer the presence they once were despite trying to kid themselves they are and they’re encumbered with high costs and overheads so why wouldn’t they sell?
    Believe me, I’m no lover of NQ but at least they would make the cuts and take the measures which should have been made years ago including wholesale changes at management and exec level.
    I and many of my colleagues hope the rumours are true

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  • February 27, 2018 at 8:05 am

    Smells like slimming down for a sell-off round here….

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  • February 27, 2018 at 8:19 am

    A take over or buy out would be the best outcome Archant could hope for as it’s no secret they’ve been reviewing all their assets and looking to cut rising costs, this includes reviews of regional offices following branch office closures and downsizing to smaller premises.
    New owners would also bring in their own people at managerial and director level where change is clearly needed due to the awful financial performance, collapsed advertsing revenues and the huge fall away in daily and weekly paper sales.
    With regards to the company spokesman and their thinly disguised albeit misguided promotional piece clearly aimed at any potential buyer, I suggest they look at recent performance figures to get the real picture as any potential buyer most certainly will be.

    Worrying times for Archant employees but as has been said previously a new broom is urgently required and has been for quite some time.

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  • February 27, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    We’ve heard the rumours but as usual the staff will be the last to know so thanks to PG, The Guardian and HTFP for keeping us in the loop, sadly this tells you all you need to know about things here these days.

    Talks of new brooms abound and really are much needed.

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  • February 27, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    Wow… Prospectus and Employee X are actually calling for Newsquest to take over to solve poor executive management! That is rather like Romans tired of poor local government welcoming the Barbarians to their gates. It only takes a look at circulation figures to show Newsquest titles are in the same boat as the rest – ie sinking fast and throwing staff overboard to try and stay afloat. Some will also have noticed in their desperation for web clicks and Facebook likes (the measures of success despite bringing in no meaningful income) their web sites now frequently feature stories in the news feed with no local content whatsoever. What did you think of last night’s Coronation Street? But who cares, as long as people click, it looks good on the figures, unlike the circulation revenues.

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  • February 28, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    I also can’t believe Prospectus and Emplyee X are actually calling for a Newsquest takeover, seeing what Newsquest has done since buying the IoWCP and its North Wales acquisition – cuts, edition closures and low standards.
    Sadly the people at the top have decided newspapers have no future (currently profitable but just not profitable enough) and are causing their own decline at a rapid pace with poor products and complete lack of understanding of the market, perhaps if someone who was passionate about the media (rather than marketing) industry were in charge then real change could happen. Instead it’s short-term “how much can I make for myself and receive my bonus before we go bust” mentality and staff are seen as a cost not an asset.

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