Dozens of Britain’s most famous newspapers, including The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, were purchased by David Montgomery’s National World for just £ 10.2m in the latest round of integration of the sick local newspaper market.
JPI Media, which owns 100 local newspapers nationwide, including Edinburgh Evening News, Lancashire Post, Sheffield Star, and Sunderland Echo, has signed a deal with National World and will take control on January 2.
Former CEO of Daily Mirror’s parent company, Montgomery, has been aiming to sign an acquisition since launching National World as a means of publishing integration on the London stock market in 2019.
“JPI’s historic publishing brand is at the pinnacle of journalism, ensuring that it serves the community and, in some cases, has supported local businesses for centuries,” says Montgomery.
“National World keeps this tradition and implements the latest technology to grow our business with a broader footprint based on high quality and unique content.”
Formerly known as Johnston Press, JPI Media went on sale in late 2018 and has been looking for a buyer since trying to repay its £ 220m debt. JPI has rejected all offers made to the asset. This includes an offer from rival publisher Newsquest, which is not obligated to deficit and values its business for up to £ 120m.
A day later, JPI agreed on a bailout and restructuring plan to amortize £ 135m of debt offered by the largest lender and leave £ 85m of debt.
In November 2019, JPI agreed to trade £ 50m to sell Crown Jewels I Daily Mail and General Trust, Daily Mail Owners, Sunday Mail and Newspapers to the Metro.
In October, JPI Media sold its printing plants in Portsmouth, Dinnington and Kahn to DMGT.
Last year, listed reach, which owns national and local newspaper titles such as the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, and Manchester Evening News, offered £ 50m to buy JPI Media, but then withdrew from the deal.
Earlier this year, Norwich-based Arcant, which publishes more than 50 local titles including Eastern Daily Press and Ham & High, sold a majority stake to private investment firm Rcapital to strengthen its finances.
In 2012, DMGT sold its local newspaper business to Montgomery’s Local World. Montgomery’s Local World is a joint venture consisting of over 100 regional titles, worth £ 100 million at the time. Three years later, Reach, the owner of the Miller and Express titles and local titles such as Birmingham Mail and Manchester Evening News, acquired Local World in a £ 220m deal.
The decline of the local newspaper industry was rapid. In 2005, Johnston Press (now JPI Media) paid £ 160m to purchase the Scotsman Newspaper Group from Telegraph owner Berkeley Brothers. During the 2018 management process, the creditor on behalf of Johnston Press assigned the title a value of only £ 4.3 million.
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