Buy-in lifts load on Harrington head x2

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Recent pressure on Harrington Kilbride's shares was lifted yesterday by news of a management buy-in by Ian Fletcher, who built up the Yellow Advertiser into the largest independent publisher of free newspapers. Harrington's shares doubled to 38p.

Mr Fletcher, who sold most of Yellow Advertiser to United Newspapers a year ago, is paying £250,000 for a 5 per cent stake in the publisher. The buy-in equates to 50p per share.

Mr Fletcher will become chief executive. John Finlayson is also joining as finance director from Fletcher Newspapers - a group of 19 paid and free newspapers that were not sold with Yellow Advertiser.

Kevin Harrington, who will remain as managing director of Harrington Kilbride, said: "We have been talking with Ian for a few months. We needed to strengthen the board."

Mr Fletcher has known Tony Herron, the company's chairman, for some time. Kevin Austin, the current finance director, will remain on the board.

Mr Harrington said that Harrington Kilbride and Fletcher Newspapers, which distributes 800,000 newspaper copies and prints a further 3 million under contract, were looking at several possible joint businessopportunities.

Investors were also hearted by an accompanying statement from Mr Herron. "The company has experienced very difficult trading conditions and damaging allegations from the press. The group continues to enjoy the support of its bankers who have agreed to renew its facilities."