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March 18, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:09am

Newsquest buys rival regional publisher Archant

By Bron Maher

The UK’s second biggest regional publisher Newsquest has bought Archant, the fourth largest in the market.

Archant was previously acquired by private equity firm Rcapital in September 2020.

Sky News revealed in February that Newsquest was in exclusive talks to buy Archant.

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker said: “The Archant strategy focused on building out digital marketing solutions and digital subscriptions is closely aligned with our own; and the additional scale that our combination brings will greatly assist Archant’s local news and Life brands in building a stronger future.”

Archant’s chief executive Lorna Willis said: “By bringing the best of Archant and Newsquest together we have the opportunity to lead the way in building an exciting future for regional media, a future that speaks to growth, innovation and sustainability, built on quality local journalism.”

Willis told Press Gazette in May 2021: “I’m going to make some tough decisions, I have to make those tough decisions, but I can tell you every decision I make will be about protecting local journalism and making sure that… when I’m older, I’m not talking to some youngster who’s asking me: ‘What’s a regional newspaper?’”

Press Gazette understands the Competition and Markets Authority is not currently looking into the merger.

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Archant owns more than 100 magazine and news brands around the UK, principally in East Anglia.

At the end of last year Rcapital announced it was closing two thirds of Archant’s offices, citing a low level of attendance by staff.

It sold several of Archant’s specialist titles off to Kelsey Media last month, and three of its titles in south west England to former Archant executive Simon Bax’s new company in August.

It also sold its only national news publication, The New European, to a group including its former editor Matt Kelly and former BBC boss Mark Thompson.

And earlier this month, the company asked subscribers to its print Life magazines to ditch the physical product in favour of “eco” digital subscriptions.

Before the merger Newsquest, itself a subsidiary of US regional publishing behemoth Gannett, owned more than 120 regional news brands and around 30 magazines. It is smaller only than Reach in the regional market, while David Montgomery’s National World, formerly JPI Media, is the third largest.

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