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The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News group up for sale

Johnston Press, which owns titles across the UK, said it was seeking offers.

The Scotsman: Comes after months of speculation.
The Scotsman: Comes after months of speculation.

The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News owner are up for sale after months of speculation around the company’s future.

Johnston Press – which has a stable of titles including the i newspaper – said it is seeking offers for a takeover.

The decision comes as a result of a strategic review, which Johnston launched in 2017 to assess options for refinancing £220m of bonds due for repayment next year.

The company said it is not currently in discussions with any potential buyers.

Speculation that the publisher would be sold has been growing since it announced the strategic review in March 2017.

In August 2018, the company’s share price spiked, surging by as much as 70% in afternoon trading amid rumours that a mystery buyer was quietly snapping up more stock.

Bidders for the business could include activist shareholder Custos Group, which already owns more than 20% of Johnston Press.

Custos Group, which is headed by Norwegian entrepreneur Christen Ager-Hanssen, reportedly said in August that it would be a prospective bidder for the business if it went into administration.

At its most recent trading update, Johnston reported a hit to revenues, mostly due to changes in Google and Facebook algorithms.

Total revenue fell 10% to £93m for the first half of 2018, despite a boost from the i newspaper.

In the same period, the company swung out of the red with interim pre-tax profits of £6.2m against losses of £10.2m a year earlier, although the turnaround was largely thanks to a one-off £8.8m accounting gain.

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