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March 30, 2012

Johnston Press shares fall in wake of financial results delay

By andrew

Shares in regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press fell 13.6 per cent yesterday after it announced it was delaying publication of its annual results in order to continue talks on renewing its debt.

Newsquest-owned title the Herald reported today that following this morning’s announcements its shares fell 1.03p to 6.5p, noting how the company – which was once valued at as much as £1bn – now had a market worth of just £41.6m.

Johnston Press, publisher of Herald rival The Scotsman, was due to report its figures on 3 April but pushed the date back to 25 April.

It said: “The company has been in constructive discussions with its lenders regarding the extension of its credit facilities for a further three years from their current maturity on September 30, 2012, and will provide a further update to the market as part of the preliminary results announcement.”

The Herald reports that Johnston Press currently has debts of around £357m, down from around £500m at its peak.

Last week the company’s chief executive Ashley Highfield said he wants to turn the company into a ‘digital-first’operation:

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“We’re going to flip the model from newspaper-first every day to digital-first, and you take the best and produce a bumper weekly in print,” he said. “By 2020, that will be the model. We’ve run the numbers and think that can be a profitable model.”

He also said that every Johnston Press title – 18 dailies and 245 – weeklies was profitable.

Figures released in November showed advertising revenue had fallen 8 per cent in the 18 weeks to 5 November, an improvement on the 10 per cent drop seen in the first half of the year.

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