The Board of the Isle of Wight County Press newspaper is recommending to its shareholders that they accept a bid from Newsquest, one of the UK’s largest owner of local news titles, to buyout the Isle of Wight County Press Group.
This Group in turn owns the shares of the Isle of Wight County Press, as well as Crossprint and Matrix Create (It previously owned the Weekly Ads paper too, but closed it down).
The Chief Executive of the IW County Press Group, Robin Freeman, is on record as saying, “The directors are unanimous in recommending to shareholders that they accept the offer”.
County Press shares
Documentation at Companies House lists 89 shareholders of Isle of Wight County Press Group Ltd, who between them own over half a million shares (527,206). The largest single holder of shares list is Amanda Bradbeer, who owns 165,760 shares.
In the latest version of the accounts available, the group turned over £4.86m in 2016, down from £5.2m in 2015. Staff costs, including directors’ remuneration, was just over £3m in 2016.
Online news – a nation-wide impact
Online news publishing has impacted the previous dominance of local newspapers country-wide. Back in the heyday of its circulation, 2005, the CP hit 41k weekly copies sold. The paper’s weekly sales have now dropped to 25k in the latest official figures available.
In the Group’s Chairman’s Statement in October 2016 in a section titled ‘Outlook’, F R Hetherington, said
“It has been mentioned here before that there are significant challenges for all our subsidiaries as a result of the way individuals and businesses choose to access and consume the news and information they require. The group will continue to think very carefully about its options for adapting to these fundamental and continuing trends.”
In a joint statement with Newsquest, Robin Freeman, current Chief Executive of the IW County Press Group said,
“The Board of the IWCP Group strongly believe that this is the best way forward for our group of companies. It provides access to the skills, knowledge and expertise that we need in order for us to be able to adapt and change the existing businesses to meet the opportunities and challenges of the new media landscape that we face.”
Who is Newsquest?
Newsquest is one of the largest owner of local newspapers across the UK, currently owning over 150 local news publications, including Southampton’s Southern Daily Echo. They also own Exchange and Mart.
Newsquest themselves are owned by the America company, Gannett Inc, the largest news publisher in the US.
In 2015 Newsquest bought another previously-independently owned local newspaper group, Romanes Media Group, for an undisclosed amount of money.
In today’s joint statement with the CP, Newquest said
“Newsquest are strongly committed to maintaining the editorial independence and integrity of the IW County Press newspaper and special arrangements will be put in place to safeguard this if the offer is accepted by shareholders. Support for the local community is something that is also important to both companies and this will be maintained.”
No details of how much Newsquest would pay for the IWCP Groups shares were released. The shareholders decision is expected in approximately four weeks.