Banks could take Johnston Press shares as publisher seeks new deal on £300m debt

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Johnston Press is preparing to renegotiate the terms of its £300m debt.

Creditors include Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The paper says that the refinancing package could see the banks take warrants in the company, which could see them buy discounted shares.

Turnover at the regional press group shrank in the first six months of this year to £144.3m, from £159.9m in the same period a year earlier. On a like-for-like basis profits were slightly up, by 4 per cent to £28.6m.

Net debt fell by 15.3 per cent in the space of a year from £361.7m to £306.4m.

Johnston Press is currently spending a significant amount of money just servicing its debts so a refinancing deal which brings down the cost of loans could be good news for the company. But the low share price of 14p, versus a high of nearly £6 back in 2005, may reflect continuing market skepticism about Johnston's ability to repay all the money it owes.

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