Newsquest is set to outbid Reach plc in the race to buy JPIMedia as the battle for control of the regional publisher hots up.
Last month the Financial Times claimed “two people briefed on the negotiations” had confirmed Reach was the preferred candidate for the titles, with one saying “exclusive talks” were being held over a possible deal worth around £50m.
But now it is claimed Newsquest is in the driving seat, having tabled a “more substantial” offer.
However, according to The Guardian, a completed deal could trigger a competition investigation due to Newsquest’s interests in Scotland, where it runs titles including The Herald, Glasgow Evening Times and The National from their Renfield street headquarters, pictured above.
JPIMedia’s stable includes The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News, but it is claimed Newsquest would seek to operate that portfolio in a “hold separate” agreement, with an independent management team to run the business until regulatory scrutiny was complete.
The report has further claimed Newsquest looked to buy the regional portfolio of JPIMedia forerunner Johnston Press last year, tabling a cash offer of between £96m and £120m, before the company entered administration.
JPI’s national daily the i looks set to be sold to Daily Mail owner DMGT in a separate deal.
Reach stated its interest in buying parts of JPIMedia as early as July this year, but The Guardian has claimed Newsquest had put a temporary hold on moving forward with a formal bid due to the takeover of its US parent company Gannett.
A Newsquest spokesman said: “We don’t comment on market speculation.” Both Reach and JPIMedia have declined to comment.