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Johnston Press administrator launches bid to sell company’s stake in PA

Johnston-PressThe administrator for Johnston Press is attempting to sell the former regional publisher’s stake in the Press Association, HTFP can reveal.

Alix Partners is seeking a buyer for JP’s 3.5pc share in the national news agency, which has a total of 26 shareholders including other national and regional newspaper publishers.

Alix Partners was appointed as administrator of JP and its subsidiaries on 16 November last year before JPIMedia, which is made up of the publisher’s former debt holders. purchased the business in a so-called “pre-pack” deal.

In return for control of the business, the bondholders led by US-based Golden Tree Asset Management agreed to wipe out £135m of JP’s £220m debt, extend the repayment period for the remaining £85m  to 2023, and inject a further £35m of new money into the business.

It is not clear why JP’s stake in the PA, which recently changed its name to PA Media, was not included in the pre-pack deal.

JPIMedia declined to give an explanation as to why the share in PA was excluded from the deal when approached by HTFP, while Alix Partners has yet to respond to our approaches.

Alix Partners has previously revealed that a total of six offers were received for part or all of JP before the JPIMedia deal was completed.

An offer of £2.5m was made for Sheffield daily The Star, the Sheffield Telegraph and the Doncaster Free Press, while a bid of £30,000 was also received for the Observer Series and West Sussex Gazette.

One offer of between £140m and £150m was made for the whole of the group, while a separate bid of between £96m and £120m for the group, excluding national daily the i, was also received.

Two separate bids for the i alone, worth £25m and £35m respectively, were also made, one of which is believed to have been from Daily Mail owner DMGT.

However, it was considered that none of the offers received, or any combination of them, would result in aggregate net proceeds sufficient to enable the group to repay its bonds in full.

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  • July 8, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    The JP shareholding is actually that of Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers PLC which was still an active subsidiary of Johnston Press PLC when the group and subsidiaries were all placed into administration. The 220,000 shares total face value was in the region of £1.35m from PA’s latest accounts, but I imagine the administrators would be able to sell that for a sizeable premium which is why I’d say it wasn’t included in the pre-pack.

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