News Int pays Johnston £30m to terminate print contract

News International has agreed to pay regional newspaper Johnston Press publisher £30m in exchange for terminating a long-term print contract between the pair.

In a statement Johnston said:”Johnston Press plc one of the leading multi-platform community media groups in the UK and Ireland, announces that it has reached agreement with News International in exchange for a payment to Johnston of £30m to terminate NI’s long term printing contracts at Johnston’s Dinnington (near Sheffield) and Portsmouth facilities.

‘The company and NI intend to enter into new long term arrangements in due course to utilise capacity at Dinnington. There is no planned headcount reduction at either facility as a result of this agreement and Johnston will explore new contract printing opportunities with immediate effect in order to maximise returns from the premium quality capacity at both Dinnington and Portsmouth.”

The company has denied speculation the move was linked with reduced demand for The Sun Sunday following the closure of the News of the World, and said it plans to utilise capacity at its plants in Broxbourne, Knowsley and Glasgow

When it closed the NoW had an average circulation of around 2.7m, while the latest figures for The Sunday Sun show a circulation of 2.2m.

Earlier this year Johnston announced a pre-tax loss of £143.8m for the 2011 financial year as it wrote down the value of its publishing assets.

Johnston Press spent £38.5m on debt interest payments over the year with debt at the end of the year standing at £351.7m.

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