Archant has denied being up for sale following reports of takeover talks with fellow regional newspaper publisher Newsquest.
The Guardian reported on Sunday that Norwich-based Archant, which publishes 61 newspapers including The New European and Eastern Daily Press, discussed a takeover with Newsquest.
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The report valued Archant at up to £40m, according to industry sources, but the company has since denied holding any discussions of a sale to Newsquest, which is the UK’s second biggest regional publisher.
An Archant spokesperson told Press Gazette: “Archant can confirm that it is not up for sale, nor is it in any discussions with Newsquest.
“It is no surprise though that Archant would be a prized asset for any media group with its strong newspaper, magazine and digital brands, its award winning innovation and digital developments and strong balance sheet.”
A Newsquest spokesperson declined to comment on what they called “market speculation”.
The Guardian claimed that talks between the two publishers ended partly due to “reticence” from Newsquest’s parent company Gannett, which is the largest US newspaper publisher by total paid daily circulation.
Days earlier, the National Union of Journalists warned of a forthcoming duopoly in UK local media run by Newsquest and Trinity Mirror, after Newsquest’s takeover of the family-owned independent CN Group.
Newsquest also acquired family-run publishers the Isle of Wight County Press – where within months it was asking staff for voluntary redundancies – and NWN Media last year.
Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ co-ordinator, said: “The rate of takeover of independent newspaper operators is speeding up with apparently just two big players in the market – Trinity Mirror and Newsquest.
“With Johnston Press paralysed by its debts, the industry seems to be moving to a duopoly of giant owners which is incredibly dangerous for diversity, given the ruthless substitution of unique content for shared material, and plurality of the media.
“There is too little choice for readers and too few opportunities for journalists.”
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