Email gaffe reveals Archant plans for Newsquest swap

Archant's head office accidentally sent an email to a reporter working on its Weston & Somerset Mercury outlining a possible asset swap involving its titles in Scotland, Devon and Somerset and Newsquest's Colchester papers.

The
reporter is understood to have the same surname as the intended
recipient and when the office realised what had happened, the email
disappeared from the reporter's machine. It is understood no deal has
been done so far.

An insider said: "It's a massive talking point
here. It was a horrible way to find out about the possibility of our
papers changing hands. People in Weston found out about it last week
and then it leaked down to Exeter. I don't know if the people in
Scotland know yet."

Another insider said the general reaction
from staff was "not good", adding: "We have heard nothing from
management about the email or the plans."

Archant South West
managing director Bernard Driscoll said: "At the moment there is
nothing to consult with staff about. If any staff are concerned, then
they are welcome to come and discuss their concerns with their manager
or with me. There is nothing to initiate or any cause for me to talk to
people or consult with them. To the best of my knowledge, there isn't
anything we should be doing."

Archant development director Ian Davies said he would not comment on internal or external emails.

Newsquest
chief executive Paul Davidson was unavailable for comment, as were
members of senior management at Newsquest's Essex division.

Archant's paid-for newspapers in the Southwest include the 16,822-circulation Weston & Somerset Mercury and the Exmouth Journal (7,912). In Scotland, titles include the 8,665-circulation Buchan Observer and the Fraserburgh Herald (5,619).

Newsquest's Colchester titles include the daily 24,545-circulation Colchester Evening Gazette, the 22,095-circulation Essex County Standard and the 14,204-circulation Braintree & Witham Times. In recent months the company has implemented a programme of cost-cutting measures including job cuts and office closures.

Newsquest
is the UK's second biggest regional publisher, with 214 papers and a
15.5 per cent market share, while Archant is now the fifth largest
publisher, with four daily newspapers and about 85 weeklies and 60
regional contract and consumer magazines.

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