Debt-laden newspaper owner Johnston Press today announced the sale of a number of its Isle of Man-based titles for £4.25m.
Following through on its promise earlier this year to rationalise its regional portfolio, the Edinburgh-based publisher sold its three print and one online titles to Tindle Newspapers.
“This disposal is further progress in executing our divestment strategy and allows the group to realise immediate value,” said CEO Ashley Highfield.
After purchasing the i newspaper from the Lebedev family for £24m, Highfield committed to offload a number of smaller titles in an attempt to deleverage its balance sheet.
Johnston Press had managed to reduce its net debt position by £15m in the year to December 2015, but was still faced with a debt pile of £179m.
Nearly all of the company’s lending is structured as loan notes that attract an annual coupon of 8.625%, translating into an interest cost of £19.7m. Although £41m of operational cash flow was generated during 2015, the company has subsequently had to pay for the purchase of the i. It also still has to plug a £27m pension deficit.
Titles included in the sale were the Isle of Man Examiner, Isle of Man Courier, Manx Independent and www.iomtoday.co.im.