Johnston Press future secured after buyout by newly-formed JPIMedia

Johnston Press, owner of the i, The Scotsman, and The Yorkshire Post, has been bought by newly-formed JPIMedia after putting itself into administration

Chiara Giordano
Saturday 17 November 2018 18:00
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The i newspaper on sale at a shop in London. The future of newspapers previously owned by Johnston Press have been secured after they were acquired by a newly formed company called JPIMedia.
The i newspaper on sale at a shop in London. The future of newspapers previously owned by Johnston Press have been secured after they were acquired by a newly formed company called JPIMedia.

Johnston Press, which owns papers including the i, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, has been saved at the eleventh hour.

Newly-formed company JPIMedia announced it had bought Johnston Press on Saturday after the publisher put itself into administration.

The publisher had been looking to refinance £220m of debt due to be repaid in June next year.

As part of the transaction, creditors have agreed to inject £35m of new money into the business and reduce its net debt level by £135m.

In a statement, JPIMedia offered reassurance that the acquisition of Johnston Press “secures jobs and [the] future of its brands and titles”.

“JPIMedia’s shareholders recognise the vital role that local and regional media plays in the communities they serve and remain committed to protecting and enhancing the value of the business in the future,” it added.

The National Union of Journalists earlier demanded “meaningful guarantees” on the future of jobs and titles following the administration process.

The i newspaper is one of 200 newspapers owned by Johnston Press

David King, the publisher’s chief executive, who will keep his position, sent an email to staff, telling them they would continue to be paid and should turn up to work as normal, with their contracts to be transferred to the new company.

As a result of the sale, an assessment period has been triggered for the employees on the defined-benefit pension scheme.

Union officials previously warned any changes to future payments in line with pension protection fund (PPF) payment rules would by a “terrible blow” to affected staff.

JPIMedia said it would offer a defined contribution pension scheme to all employees.

Mr King said the “important” sale would ensure “operations can continue as normal, with employees’ rights maintained, suppliers paid, and newspapers printed”.

“We will focus on ensuring the group’s titles continue to publish the high-quality journalism we are known for and which has never been more important,” he said.

John Ensall, director of JPIMedia, said: “In the absence of another financial solution being available for the business, we are pleased to have reached this agreement to acquire Johnston Press, to protect the value of the business, preserve jobs and allow for the uninterrupted publication of its websites and newspapers.

“As part of this transaction we have reduced the level of net debt very significantly and invested £35m to put the business in a far stronger financial position.

“We look forward to working with the management team as they embark on the next chapter in Johnston Press’s story in the media sector, with the resources to support local and national journalism and embrace the digital future.”

One of Britain’s biggest publishers, Johnston Press had more than 200 titles in print and online, including the i, The Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman.

The company announced it was placing itself in administration on Friday after it failed to find an appropriate buyer.

Speculation the publisher might be sold had been growing since it announced a strategic review in March 2017.

The company had been looking to refinance £220m of debt due to be repaid in June next year.

In an email sent to reassure staff, Mr King said that, at its peak, the company’s debt reached £793m.

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