Johnston Press has moved to reassure staff in Northern Ireland after last night’s news that the company is to enter administration.
It publishes more than 200 titles across the UK, including the News Letter, Derry Journal and a range of weeklies.
An email to staff seen by the Press Association stated staff would continue to be paid and should turn up to work as normal. Their contracts are to be transferred to the new company.
In an email to staff, Johnston Press chief executive David King said that, subject to court approval, the company’s business and assets would then be sold to a newly-incorporated group of companies controlled by investors who own Johnston’s debt.
He said that the new business would have much lower debts and the new owners ‘intend to provide new money to carry us forward.’
Last month Johnston Press put itself up for sale in a bid to refinance £220m of debt due to be repaid next year.
However a statement last night, pointed out that the board believes ‘none of the offers had delivered sufficient value.’
“The board has resolved that the best remaining option is for the company and its principal subsidiaries to be placed into administration,” the statement added.
There have been several rounds of job cuts and restructuring since Johnston Press bought the Northern Ireland titles.
Email to Johnston Press staff. Essentially if the administration deal is approved, a new company will be formed owning the same papers, having lopped off the crippling debts (and the pension fund). pic.twitter.com/Djw5UBIgaQ
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) November 16, 2018
Very sad to learn Johnston Press is going into administration tonight. Lots to be angry about, but tonight thoughts are with our local journalists and staff team who do a great job covering the stories the nationals don’t see
— Lisa Nandy (@lisanandy) November 16, 2018
"Local papers raising local and regional issues are vital for our democracy" said one concerned MP after learning that Johnson Press – which owns hundreds of local titles – put itself up for sale in a bid to refinance £220m of debt https://t.co/wwLI6cyEYV
— Sky News (@SkyNews) November 17, 2018
My favourite memory of 5 years at Johnston Press as NI Sales Director was when a Head Office marketing guru told me the way to save the News Letter was to focus it on the GAA after I told them that was a strength for the Irish News. Those same geniuses will run the new company.
— Ian Clarke (@Cheesewright3) November 17, 2018