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Johnston Press plc

Johnston Press surges on reports Daily Mail and General Trust is considering buying i newspaper

Sky reported that the Daily Mail is mulling a bid for the i newspaper, which Johnston bought for £24mln in 2016 and is widely seen as the company’s flagship title

i newspaper
In 2005, Johnston Press was valued at £1.5bn

Johnson Press shares surged on Monday morning on reports that Daily Mail and General Trust PLC (LON:DMGT) is considering making an offer to buy its i newspaper.

The struggling publisher, valued at less that £5mln, put itself up for sale last month after failing to find a way to refinance its £220mln of bond debts which mature next June.

Neither DMGT or Johnston have commented on the story, which was first reported by Sky News.

READ: Johnston Press puts itself up for sale

The i was bought by Johnston for £24mln back in 2016 and is seen as the jewel in the crown of the company’s 200-strong portfolio of regional papers.

The value of those titles, including The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, has tumbled in recent years though following a decline in traditional and digital advertising revenues.

Back in September, the i’s circulation dropped 9% from a year earlier to 242,408 copies.

In its latest results, Johnston Press reported a 10% fall in revenues during the first half of 2018.

It swung back to a profit of £6.2mln for the six-month period, but this was almost entirely due to a one-off accounting gain of £8.8mln.

Custos Group, headed up by Norwegian entrepreneur Christen Ager-Hanssen, has a 20% stake in Johnston and has been linked with a potential bid approach in the past.

US hedge funds were also said to be positioning themselves for a takeover last year after snapping up the company’s bonds at a discount.

Johnston shares jumped 22% to 4.0p, while DMGT shares edged 0.7% higher to 705p.

Quick facts: Johnston Press plc

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Market: LSE
Market Cap: £0.00
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