NEWS: Johnston Press to buy regional Emap papers for pounds 205m

The shake-up in the regional newspaper industry continued this week when Emap sold its stable of regional newspapers and printing business to Johnston Press for pounds 205 million.

The shake-up in the regional newspaper industry continued this week when

Emap sold its stable of regional newspapers and printing business to

Johnston Press for pounds 205 million.



The sale, which needs approval from the Department of Trade and

Industry, includes Emap’s four evening newspapers in Peterborough,

Northampton, Kettering and Scarborough, 30 paid-for weekly titles and 31

free weekly publications.



These titles have a combined circulation of more than two million copies

a week, which made Emap the 11th largest regional newspaper publisher in

the country.



Johnston Press now becomes the fifth biggest regional publisher in the

UK.



Advertising sales for all of the titles will continue to be handled by

MediaForce.



Emap said the proceeds from the sale would be used to reduce its

borrowing. The publisher has spent about pounds 535 million on

acquisitions as it has expanded into four European countries over the

past few years and by 29 March had borrowed pounds 350 million.



However, the sale will not free Emap to increase its radio interests

because the company already has the maximum amount of ‘points’ allowed

under the current cross-media regulations.



Emap’s managing director, David Arculus, said he wanted to consolidate

the company’s interests in Europe and return to the innovative launches

for which Emap is best known.



The Emap chairman, Sir John Hoskyns, said: ‘It reflects Emap’s

increasing focus on strengthening its publishing interests in consumer

magazines, business communications - including electronic publishing -

and commercial radio.’



Emap announced on Tuesday that its pre-tax profits for the year to 31

March had increased by 35 per cent to pounds 86.5 million. With

operating profit at pounds 9.6 million, on a turnover of pounds 100.8

million, Emap’s newspaper and printing business represents 10 per cent

of the company’s total operating profits and, before acquisition and

restructuring costs, 14 per cent of turnover.



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