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JPIMedia unveils National World as new owner

David MontgomeryDavid Montgomery’s National World has won the race to buy regional publisher JPIMedia, it has been announced.

The publisher has been taken over by the investment firm, headed by the former Local World and Mirror Group boss, in a deal worth £10.2m.

JPIMedia had put itself up for sale for a second time in September and reports the following month claimed both National World and Archant had submitted bids ahead of the deadline.

National World took control of JPIMedia at midnight on 2 January and the terms and conditions of employment for the company’s current staff are not affected by the sale.

The deal has been funded from National World’s own cash resources and by the issue of £8.425 million of loan notes. It will provide £6.5 million working capital facilities to JPIMedia post-completion.

Tomorrow, former Trinity Mirror director Mark Hollinshead will be appointed chief commercial officer and Daniel Cammiade, who was formerly chief operating officer with JPIMedia forerunner Johnston Press and more recently worked as chief executive at Tindle Newspapers, will be appointed as a non-executive director.

Mr Montgomery, pictured, said in an announcement to JPIMedia staff: “National World is a public company set up to invest in and develop local publishing to create a modern sustainable model.

“We are very proud to be associated with JPIMedia’s 100 historic brands and recognise the dedication of all the staff who serve their communities in print and online, particularly in current challenging times.

“National World is committed to growing the company through the enhancement of content and technology and we look forward to discussing these plans with everyone and, once possible, visiting all locations.

“On a personal note I have been associated with some JPIMedia titles since I was a student journalist and witnessed over decades how their great and honest reporting has contributed to democratic and societal development – a tradition that National World will continue to champion.”

National World was previously said to have been “invited for talks” with JPIMedia when it first put itself up for sale last year, but no deal was concluded at that point.

Addressing staff, JPIMedia chief executive David King added: “I would like to thank all of you for the exceptional commitment and passion you show every day and I believe that our titles, staff, audiences and other stakeholders can now benefit from being part of this new organisation.

“Over the last two years, we have made great progress with our digital strategy, changing the way we work, how we serve our audiences, diversifying our revenue streams and supporting our advertising customers.

“While 2020 has been a very difficult year, over the coming months we must continue to build on the momentum that you have created.  The publishing industry is undergoing a fundamental shift and being part of National World will help sustain our business and local media for the longer term. I am looking forward to managing the transition to the new owners.”

The deal enables JPIMedia to fulfil its preferred aim of selling its regional portfolio as a single business, despite speculation earlier this month that Dundee-based DC Thomson may bid for its Scottish titles.

JPIMedia had previously sold its printing business and national daily title the i to Daily Mail publisher DMGT in separate deals.

Commenting on the deal, National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “News of today’s sale of JPI Media brings an end to the uncertainty that has hovered over the company’s future for some years. In announcing the deal, National World’s chairman David Montgomery makes a welcome commitment to growing the company, and also acknowledges the dedication of staff and the prestigious heritage of the 100-plus titles across the group.

“This sale comes at a critical moment for the local news industry – the past year has underlined how vital the provision of relevant local news and journalism is in our communities, at a time when the sector is under enormous strain.

“We look forward to engaging with National World on its plans to reinvigorate a business that boasts a talented and committed team of journalists providing an essential public service in newsrooms across the UK.

“We will be seeking an early meeting with the new management team on behalf of NUJ chapels recognised across the group.”