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May 9, 2014

Johnston Press unveils refinancing package to raise £360m and £5m investment from Sky

By William Turvill

Johnston Press has unveiled a new refinancing package which it is hoped will raise up to £360m.

The regional publisher estimates that it will raise £220m through issuing bonds and raise a further £140m by issuing and placing shares.

In December, JP announced that a deal had been struck with lenders to defer paying its debts of £300m until autumn next year in order for a refinancing package to be developed.

The publisher has also today announced an agreement with Sky, which will mean JP has access to Sky AdSmart. Initially rolled out in two markets – Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield, and Milton Keynes, Northampton and Peterborough – AdSmart will enable Johnson Press to sell TV advertising in specific local markets.

Sky has also agreed to invest £5m in 13.6m of the new shares being issued by JP at a cost of 17p per share.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield (pictured) said the agreement with Sky is “testament” to JP’s focus on becoming a “truly multimedia business”.

 “That Sky has further demonstrated its conviction in our strategy by investing in our business is particularly encouraging,” he said.

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“The strength of our sales team network and our relationships with small and medium-sized enterprises across the UK position us well to deliver a comprehensive portfolio of advertising and marketing solutions.

“We already have 300,000 local business customers who benefit from our expertise and it is exciting that we will now be able to offer them Sky AdSmart local.”

Andrew Griffith, Sky managing director of commercial business, said: “Sky AdSmart helps level the playing field for local businesses. They can now compete effectively with national brands, using the unique brand-building power of TV.

“Local companies can promote their products or service on any of Sky’s quality channels and be confident they are reaching their target audiences.

“We are looking forward to partnering with Johnston Press with its considerable experience of working alongside local communities and its market-leading role in building successful local digital media platforms.”

On the refinancing package, Highfield said: “Johnston Press has already achieved much in turning around our business performance, with 2013 marking a return to underlying operating profit growth for the first time in seven years.

“The refinancing of the business is another key milestone for the company and I am delighted to be announcing this capital refinancing plan.”

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