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August 12, 2015

Report: Johnston Press ‘sizing up local media rivals for a merger’

By William Turvill

Johnston Press is reported to be "sizing up local media rivals for a merger".

The regional publisher's interim results, released yesterday, reported operating profit down 4.3 per cent year on year to £27m in the first half of 2015.

The Telegraph reported yesterday that, following rivals Trinity Mirror, Newsquest and Local World, Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield (pictured) has "thrown his hat into the ring" over possible mergers.

The newspaper reports him as saying: "The recent fall in our share price has made us crisper on what we’d be prepared to pay for things. All the mood music is there.”

He told the Telegraph he was confident mergers between local newspaper groups could pass regulatory hurdles.

He said: “Our lawyers have looked at a number of different combinations as a desk exercise and you could get it done. You might have to sell one or two things but for the most part there is not much overlap.”

According to the Telegraph, analysts have named Newsquest as a good potential fit for Johnston Press.

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It reported Highfield as saying that the publisher could also seek smaller deals with its cash reserve of £30m.

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