Johnston cheers market with £485m financing deal

Johnston Press, the beleaguered regional publishing group, cheered investors yesterday despite plunging profits after it successfully secured a £485m debt deal with its banks.

The group, which was forced to once-more deny rumours it was planning to sell The Scotsman, saw pre-tax profits fall 56 per cent to £27.5m in the first half year on year. It said the first half had been "significantly impacted by the recession in the UK and Republic of Ireland". The business was largely hit by the slump in the advertising market which has smashed much of the media industry. The group said total advertising revenues were down 32.7 per cent on the same period in 2008.

Yet the shares rose almost 10 per cent to 38p on news of the finance facilities, which will cover the next three years. Johnston said the move provides a "stable financial platform, allowing the group to actively manage through the current cycle".

Chief executive, John Fry, said: "The timing of the economic upturn remains uncertain but advertising revenues are demonstrating greater stability and we expect the cyclical improvement when it comes to more than compensate any ongoing structural change."

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