Sir Ray Tindle takes stake in Johnston to £3.1m

Veteran local newspaper owner Sir Ray Tindle has further increased his stake in Edinburgh-based regional media group Johnston Press.

Sir Ray Tindle, who has been in the newspaper industry for 65 years, and owns more than 200 local papers, has upped his stake in the media group to 8 per cent.

He has bought another 600,500 shares to add to tranches amassed over the past 18 months. This takes his holding to 51.2 million shares with a market value of £3.1 million at last Friday’s closing price of 6p. He is now Johnston Press’s third largest shareholder.

The share price, which stood at £4.62 five years ago, has been trading at less than 10p for the past year.

Tindle, who is based in Farnham, Surrey, told BBC Scotland he sees Johnston Press as “one of the best collections of newspapers in the country”. He praised the role of Freddie Johnston and other members of the family who used to run the Edinburgh firm.

“I know they’ve got problems, everyone knows that, but they will survive the problems and you will find that they’ve got good titles,” said Sir Ray.

Asked if he was interested in taking over the group, which has a market capitalisation of less than £40m, Sir Ray said “that would be wonderful, but not possible”.

Johnston Press owns Scotsman Publications which includes The Scotsman. The latest audited industry figures show circulation at The Scotsman has fallen by nearly 10 per cent over the past year to 38,000, while its sister paper, Scotland on Sunday, is down nearly 14 per cent to 47,500.

The company’s new chief executive, Ashley Highfield, last month set out plans to move the publishing business towards more online earnings, while moving a number of daily titles to weeklies.

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