Embattled publisher Johnston Press has announced plans to file for administration after failing to find a buyer.
The company, which publishes The i newspaper, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, launched a formal sales process in order to refinance its £220m of debt in October. However, it announced in a statement today (16 November) that none of the offers it has received “deliver sufficient value", despite “considerable interest” from the market.
It has consequently spiked the sale and announced its intention to file for administration.
Following the filings in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland tomorrow (17 November), the company plans to sell its businesses and assets to investor creditors.
In a memo seen by The Drum, chief executive David King told staff that the business will continue to operate as usual. He stated the titles' newspapers and websites will continue to be published and updated and emphasised employees will continue to be paid as normal.
He added that suppliers will be contacted in order to re-establish trading relationships.
However King noted that benefit pension schemes will not carry over. The company will delist from the London Stock Exchange when it opens on Monday (19 November), an additional blow to staff who had bought shares.
"This has not been an easy decision for the board," wrote King, who will remain as chief executive. "However, having explored a range of other options, this is the best available course of action and it is one that offers a chance for a brighter future for our business. As I have stressed on several occasions, our business is profitable with good margins. Our debt has constrained us.
"The debts that have weighed us down were accrued during an acquisitive period in the 2000s when local media companies were viewed as prized possessions. It was not obvious during this time of expansion that the newspaper industry was about to suffer the impacts we have since: the impact on classifieds of motor and property portals, the power of Google search, and latterly social media and new jobs portals.
"We have faced the hard realities of our situation head on, with a calm-headed, rigorous, well advised, professional approach."
Last week it was reported that The Daily Mail’s owner, Daily Mail and General Trust, had been readying a bid to buy The i. Sky said the deal would have raised £50m-£100m for Johnston Press.
Johnston Press originally purchased the concise daily paper from ESI Media in 2016.