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JPI Media boss says no 'formal sales process' open for news titles after auction claims in report

JPI Media

JPI Media has told staff it has not opened a “formal sales process” for any of its titles after a report claimed the group could be looking to auction some of them off, including daily the i newspaper.

In an email to staff, seen by Press Gazette, JPI Media chief executive David King said management was “developing business plans for the group” and confirmed it was working with advisers as part of the process.

King added that “nothing had been decided” about potential title sales, but did not go out of his way to rule it out.

His email came after Sky News reported that the hedge fund owners of JPI Media, formerly Johnston Press, were looking to hire advisers to discuss potential auctions of parts of the publisher.

City sources told Sky News that a sale of The i newspaper and a separate sale of other titles was “the likeliest outcome”.

Said King: “While I would not normally comment every time there is media speculation about what we are doing, I appreciate that it can be unsettling if you have seen a story speculating about a potential sale of JPI Media, hence this short note.

“Nothing has been decided and there is no formal sale process underway.

“We are developing business plans for the group and as part of this process we are working with advisers to help us and our news owners assess those plans and opportunities.”

He went on to add that he had “no doubt there will be more speculation about us over the coming weeks and months” and would update staff on developments when he had “something of substance to say”.

JPI Media said it would not comment further on the matter.

The Sky News report of potential title sales following a raft of changes at the publisher, which owns more than 200 titles.

Last month it announced it was looking to cut up to 70 full-time editorial staff across the UK, with only The i newspaper being exempt from the austerity plans.

The company has also revealed “digital first” newsroom trials, newspaper office closures and a potential paywall roll-out since the start of this year.

JPI Media is owned by Goldentree Asset Management, Carval Investors, Benefit Street Partners and Fidelity – former Johnston Press bondholders who snapped up the publisher in a pre-pack administration deal last year.

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