A businessman has abandoned his planned ‘Game of Thrones’ boardroom coup at Johnston Press in favour of what he is calling a “wait and see” strategy.
Christen Ager-Hanssen, whose Custos Group investment vehicle is the biggest shareholder in the regional publisher, has called on the company’s directors to “sort our their own mess” after revealing he no longer has plans to put anyone on the board.
Christen, pictured, had previously assembled a team touted to take control of the board, which would have seen former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond become chairman and ex-Local World boss Steve Auckland become chief executive.
He repeatedly asserted that “winter is coming” for the JP board, a reference to the fantasy television drama Game of Thrones, but the plans were dealt a blow in November when a formal requisition notice from Custos calling for an extraordinary general meeting was ruled “invalid” by the company.
Since then, there have been no further developments in the saga, although Custos has continued to maintain a 20.01pc stake in the publisher.
Christen says he is now adopting a “wait and see” strategy although he also warned that this “may change.”
He told HTFP: “I want JP’s current board to sort out their own mess. Custos, by far the biggest shareholder in JP, are currently waiting with interest to receive the current board suggestions in how to deal with the debt burden of JP.
“Custos is putting shareholder interests first by waiting to present any plans or ideas until the forthcoming AGM.
“If and when the current JP board communicate a clear strategy in how to deal with the debt and how to move forward Custos as the biggest shareholder will take action and may come up with an alternative plan for the restructuring of JP.
“Custos have no faith in the current board’s ability to deal with the situation but for the moment we have a wait and see strategy. This may change. Custos will fight for shareholder rights and the Board of JP are accountable towards the shareholders.”
Speaking to the Scottish Sun yesterday, Christen denied the change in approach had come about due to a “backlash” over Mr Salmond’s links to Russian government-funded broadcaster RT.
He said: “You can’t combine these two things. I have full trust in Alex Salmond. We no longer want to put anyone on the board. Our plan is to wait.”
Christen also told the Sunday Times: “There have been no material change to any of our plans regarding JP except timing. There have certainly not been any change in the people involved from our side.
“Alex Salmond will in my opinion be a great chairman for JP as well as Steve Auckland will be a great CEO of the company.”
Johnston Press has declined to comment.