Stakes change hands in NP refinancing

Newspaper Publishing, publisher of the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, last night announced changes in its ownership structure and a refinancing plan aimed at ensuring "the future financing and management" of its titles.

Under the agreement in principle, Mirror Group and Independent Newspapers, the publishing group controlled by Tony O'Reilly, will each take a 43 per cent stake in NP, while Prisa, the Spanish-based publishers of El Pais, will see its holding drop to 12 from 18 per cent. The remaining shares will continue to be held by independent shareholders. Repubblica International and Espresso International, the Italian shareholders, will sell their 20 per cent stake to Mirror Group and Independent Newspapers.

The new NP board will give Mirror Group and Independent Newspapers three members each. Prisa will appoint two members; two independent non-executives, including current board member Andreas Whittam Smith, founder and former editor of the Independent, will also be appointed.

The three big shareholders will subscribe £20m in new equity, with Mirror Group and Independent Newspapers each contributing £9m and Prisa £2m.

Liam Healy, chief executive of Independent Newspapers, will be the company's new chairman and Sir Gordon Borrie, a non-executive director of Mirror Group and a former director-general of the Office of Fair Trading, will become deputy-chairman.

Mirror Group will take over the management of NP under the terms of a new management services agreement linked to a new business plan.

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