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
Johnston Press now becomes the fifth biggest regional publisher in the
Advertising sales for all of the titles will continue to be handled by
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.