Shares in publishing group Reach jumped as much as 12 per cent this morning after it said it has pulled out of the race to acquire titles from i newspaper owner JPI Media.
Reach, which publishes the Daily Mirror, announced in July that it was in talks over a potential takeover of some of JPI’s assets, which have been put up for sale by its hedge fund owners.
However, the company today said it was “no longer in active discussions” about the deal.
It follows reports that rival regional publisher Newsquest had emerged as the frontrunner after tabling a higher bid.
JPI Media, which also owns the Yorkshire Post and the Scotsman, was formed last year following a last-minute rescue deal to save Johnston Press.
Belgian media group Mediahuis, which earlier this week expressed interest in the Telegraph titles, has been slated as a potential suitor. Fleet Street veteran David Montgomery is also said to be circling the publisher.
It came as Reach reported “steady” trading in the five months to 24 November, with a decline in print revenue offset by growth in its digital business.
Overall, like-for-like revenue fell 4.4 per cent over the period, though this was an improvement on the 6.6 per cent decline reported in the comparable period last year.
Reach said its balance sheet remained robust, and that it would continue to explore merger and acquisition opportunities “which would accelerate the company’s strategy”.
Jim Mullen, who took over from Simon Fox as chief executive in August, said he was “impressed by the strength” of Reach’s national and regional brands.
“The Reach brands continue to have real relevance at both a national and local level, as is demonstrated by our considerable audience growth,” he said.
“We are working to complement our audience reach with a significant depth of customer insight and data that will allow us to build an intelligent, relevant and trusted content business for the long term.”
Reach maintained its outlook for the full year and said it would unveil a strategy update in the first quarter of 2020