Monday, December 19, 2005

All change at The Scotsman

Now this is interesting to us residents of Scottishland.
The Barclay brothers have agreed to sell The Scotsman newspaper and other titles to Johnston Press in a deal worth £160m.

The sale includes the Edinburgh Evening News, Scotland on Sunday and the free Edinburgh Herald & Post.

I would imagine that people employed by The Scotsman will be somewhat unsure of the next move.
In the last financial year ended 31 December 2004, Scotsman Publications reported profit before interest and tax of £7.7m on turnover of £63.5m.

Interestingly, I was talking with a friend of mine last night, who had recently seen a confidential memo from one of The Scotsman editors, in which it is reported that the editorial budgets were about to be slashed by up to 60%. Perhaps The Scotsman group is not as healthy as it might be?
The Barclay Brothers bought the company eight years ago for £87m but The Scotsman has been losing circulation in recent years with a daily sale of 59,000 last month.

Many locals, including myself, think that the quality of The Scotsman has declined sharply in the last 10 years, since the Barclays took over so it will be interesting to see whether Johnston Press will try to reverse the trend or just squeeze the paper for as much cash as they can.
The acquisition will add The Scotsman to a growing list of newspaper titles owned by Johnston Press.

Earlier this year, Johnston Press spent £155m on Scottish Radio Holdings' newspaper arm, Score Press.

It seems that Johnston Press has been on something of an acquisitions spree recently, as they also bought a number of Irish titles off 3i, the venture capital group.
3i, Europe's leading private equity and venture capital company, today announces that it has entered into an agreement to sell Local Press Ltd ("Local Press"), owner of the Belfast News Letter and Derry Journal, to Johnston Press plc in a £65m deal.

I wonder where all this money has come from? Johnston floated on the stock exchange in 1988, so the money wasn't raised through flotation. That's some big cash they've been lobbing about in the last few months; in fact, that's £380 million on those three deals alone.

As I said, interesting...

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