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Report claims up to eight companies mulling JPIMedia bids

David MontgomeryUp to eight companies are considering bids for JPIMedia assets, it has been reported.

The Times has claimed several different firms are in the running to take over parts of the regional publisher, although the newspaper has declined to name all interested parties.

Reach plc has previously confirmed its interest, saying recently it was in the “early stages” of talks to buy part of JPIMedia, while last week it was reported former Local World boss David Montgomery, pictured, was poised to set up a new company called National World and had identified JPIMedia as his first target.

Now The Times has also cited Newsquest and Archant as potential bidders, while adding it is hoped Belgian media group Mediahuis will “show its hand” after its purchase of Irish publisher Independent News & Media.

DC Thomson has “mainly ruled out bidding because it considers the likes of The Scotsman to be overvalued”, according to the article.

The Times said buyer focus “tends to be on the national titles”, although city titles including the Edinburgh Evening News and Sheffield daily The Star were “profitable performers” in the group.

However, it went on to say that “dozens of weeklies, drained of resources for years, perhaps face a grim fate, under new owners”, adding the current owners “appear resistant to break up the group”, although they may consider “hiving off” national daily the i separately.

Any deal was expected to be done by the end of the month, The Times added.

JPIMedia was formed last November after its predecessor company Johnston Press went into administration with debts of £220m.

Prior to JPIMedia taking control in a so-called “pre-pack” deal last November, JP had put itself up for sale resulting in six offers for all or part of the business.

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.

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.

At the time, it was considered that none of the offers received, or any combination of them, would result in sufficient proceeds to enable the group to repay its debts in full.

HTFP has approached Newsquest, while Archant, DC Thomson, JPIMedia and Reach plc have declined to comment.

8 comments

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  • August 19, 2019 at 11:01 am
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    claims? It has been reported? Better wait for the real news then.

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  • August 19, 2019 at 11:24 am
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    And so – assuming these reports are correct – the vultures gather around the still-twitching carcass of a once-proud company. Best of luck to all the folk involved in this one.

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  • August 19, 2019 at 11:36 am
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    I would be interested to see what Archant might be tempted by now, since all the East Anglian titles which might have been attractive in the past are owned by Iliffe. Hard to believe the company would be interested in more distant papers – the only way any savings could surely be made was if any new acquisition was printed at Thorpe.

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  • August 19, 2019 at 12:39 pm
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    Buying what? Leased buildings? Unprofitable titles? Experienced staff?

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  • August 19, 2019 at 12:41 pm
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    I really think Archant have more than enough on their hands with their withering portfolio of free falling weeklies and ailing dailies than to be considering bidding for others way off their traditional patches.
    The strategy seems to be closing branch offices,converting staff to remote working, using more generic content across titles and overall downsizing so I’d be surprised if their interest is genuine

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  • August 20, 2019 at 9:41 am
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    Got to feel for the staff on the “dozens of weeklies” who have been left to soldier on while resources have been pulled from all around them, which often means low wages and unpaid overtime and for what? They are now seen as canon fodder to be sacrificed by buyers wanting to get their hands on the bigger titles.

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  • August 20, 2019 at 11:16 am
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    Might I respectfully suggest Archant get their own titles in order first before rummaging around for other regional publishers cast offs.
    Surely having weeklies hardly anyone’s buying, a daily that loses scores of readers by the month and websites the reps can’t monetise ought to be enough priorities for them to be working on I’d say.

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  • August 20, 2019 at 2:11 pm
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    Very surprised that they say The Edinburgh Evening News is making money as over past seven years its circulation has fell from 50,000 to just over 16,000 daily. to make matters worse it comes out with the early morning dailies which put many readers off. Thought it would have went to twice weekly by now. As for the Scotsman its barely hanging on by its fingertips.

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