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National claims regional publisher ‘sounding out suitors’ over potential sale

A regional publisher is “sounding out suitors” for a potential sale, a national newspaper has claimed.

The Sunday Times has reported Archant is working with financial adviser Stephens Europe to look for possible buyers.

Both Archant and Stephens Europe declined to respond to the claims when approached by HTFP, with the latter saying it “doesn’t comment on anything in the press or otherwise”.

Last year the Norwich-based publisher emphatically denied it was “up for sale” and rubbished claims made in The Guardian that it had held talks with Newsquest over a potential takeover.

Archant's Norwich headquarters

Archant’s Norwich headquarters

In its story, the Times claimed the regional newspaper industry “appears poised for a fresh wave of consolidation” and also touched on previous speculation about the future of JPIMedia.

The story adds: “Archant, the owner of titles such as anti-Brexit title the New European and the Eastern Daily Press, is also working with advisers Stephens Europe to sound out suitors.”

Earlier this month Sky News claimed JPIMedia was sounding out advisers about launching an auction of parts or all of the business.

Chief executive David King responded at the time by saying “nothing has been decided”, but the Times has now claimed the company has started “hunting for buyers”.

The story states: “A group of bondholders led by Golden Tree Asset Management has appointed bankers at Stella EOC to lay the groundwork for a potential sale of part, or all, of the business formerly known as Johnston Press.

“The move comes despite the fact that JPIMedia boss David King wrote an email to staff earlier this month stating that the company had not opened a ‘formal sales process’ for any of its titles, but was working with advisers on ‘business plans for the group.'”

JPIMedia declined to comment on the claims when approached by HTFP.

5 comments

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  • May 29, 2019 at 11:04 am
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    Years of bad management,short term knee jerk decision making and staff promoted to positions way above their abilities has finally brought the whole historic business down on itself , truly shocking it was allowed to carry on so long,despite voices from within questioning policies and direction.
    it’s the price you pay for a passive ‘ don’t rock the boat ‘management team who may well be the first ones to go when new owners come in and start bringing their own
    people in to properly run the business.
    Looking around the place at some of the individuals who’ve gone along with the ridiculous directives and culls of done super staff, I’d say the sooner the better

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  • May 29, 2019 at 1:08 pm
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    There’s no smoke without fire – the Telegraph website carried this (badly-subbed) story the other week: “The dynasty originally behind ­Colman’s mustard is weighing a sale of Archant, one of Britain’s largest ­regional newspaper groups and ­publisher of the anti-Brexit weekly The New European. The Norwich-based publisher of the Eastern Daily Press is estimated to be worth between £40m and £60m.”

    Presumably this is one of the reasons that any sale of the extensive Prospect House site has still to be announced – it would be rather a large carrot for any prospective buyer which would also have to acquire the stick of some declining print titles, a top-heavy staffing structure and a historic pension deficit.

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  • May 29, 2019 at 2:11 pm
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    Nothing like a good management clear out to lift the spirits. Far too many people with ridiculous titles milling around head office, with no knowledge of the business they take a salary from. If it’s savings they’re after, start with the top floor.

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