Johnston Press is taking advice on “debt-related issues” from financial services giant Rothschild, but claims the firm have not been suddenly engaged to help navigate difficult financial waters.
A spokesperson for Johnston Press told Press Gazette that Rothschild has been on a retainer with the publisher since about 2013 and had previously advised on its refinancing in 2014.
The Telegraph reported City sources yesterday claiming the publisher’s interim chairman, Camilla Rhodes, had “called in” Rothschild to “examine its refinancing options”.
Johnston Press owes £220m in bonds which are set to mature in 2019.
A spokesperson told Press Gazette: “Actually, Rothschild have been a retained adviser to Johnston Press for several years. As such it’s inaccurate to say they have been called in.”
He added: “[Rothschild] advise us on a number of issues. They advised on the company’s refinancing in 2014. In terms of what they are doing now, they are advising on debt-related issues.”
Pressure to secure a new strategy is reported to be coming from Johnston Press’ largest shareholder, investment fund Crystal Amber, which has a 20 per cent stake in the publisher.
According to the Telegraph, the investor is set to hold talks with Rhodes this week and could call for JP chief executive Ashley Highfield to step down.
Johnston Press, which publishes national daily the i as well around 200 regional newspaper titles, was said to be making the move to allay fears it will struggle to repay the significant bonds debt.