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Johnston Press is inviting takeover bids after the stricken publisher hit a brick wall in desperate refinancing talks with bondholders.

That stalemate has forced the owner of I newspaper and the Yorkshire Post to seek an external cash injection by putting itself on the open market in a last-ditch effort to close a £220m funding gap due in June of next year.

Outlining its radical move the publisher wrote: “Since commencing the strategic review of financing options first announced in March 2017, the company has focused on exploring all options available.

“In order to assess all strategic options to maximise value to its stakeholders, the board of Johnston Press announces that it has decided to seek offers for the company.”

Rothschild Bank will manage the sale process with the hope that the business can be passed on as a single entity rather than being carved up into chunks although in a cut-throat market rival publishers will already be circling looking to pick off its crown jewels – notably the i newspaper.

Johnston Press has endured a turbulent few years at the centre of a boardroom drama in which activist investors Richard Bernstein and Christen Ager-Hanssen sought to install former first minister Alex Salmond as chairman.