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BSkyB to take 1.6% stake in Johnston Press as publisher announces details of refinancing package to cut debt

Refinancing: Johnston Press

BSkyB is set to invest £5m in Johnston Press, giving it a 1.6 per cent stake in the company, as the publisher tries to cut its debt in a £360m refinancing package.

The publisher hopes the plans, which involve a £137.7m rights issue and £220m in new bonds, will cut debts by a third.

As part of the deal the pay-TV channel will provide a local version of its addressable TV advertising service AdSmart across the publishing group’s sales network, letting local firms to buy ad campaigns in Johnston Press titles supported by TV ads in local markets.

Ashley Highfield, CEO of Johnston Press, said: “The refinancing of the business is another key milestone for the company.”

The move follows the sale of Johnston Press’s Republic of Ireland titles last month to Iconic Newspapers for £7.2m after paying around £115m for them in 2005.

In March, Johnston Press announced losses of £286.8m in 2013 and advertising revenue fell by 6.4 per cent. However, digital revenues were up by almost a fifth year on year, and digital display revenue increased by 30.3 per cent.

Last month, the publisher’s new chief digital and product officer, Jeff Moriarty, said paid content was “very much in [his] mind” as an option moving forward.

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