Newsquest’s long-serving chief executive Paul Davidson is expected to retire later this year.
It emerged today that parent company in the US Gannett has appointed headhunters to begin the process of replacing him.
A spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: “Paul is in the early stages of planning his retirement.”
Newsquest publishes more than 200 titles in the UK – mostly in the regional press, but also in trade media.
Davidson was appointed chief executive in 2001 and chairman two years later.
According to the NUJ, his salary before bonuses and perks was £612,000 last year. Newsquest is believed to have achieved an operating profit of £58m in the same period.
Meanwhile, Newsquest journalists have endured a pay freeze for four out of the last five years.
According to the Newspaper Society, Newsquest is the second biggest regional newspaper publisher in the UK with 186 titles and total weekly circulation of 5.7m.
In recent years Press Gazette has tried many times to interview Paul Davidson and ask him questions about issues ranging from the company's decision to close its final salary pension scheme in 2010 to successive waves of editorial cutbacks.
The standard response from Newsquest head office has always been that chief executive Paul Davidson is not around, and that no one else is available for comment.