Archant refinances £50m debt after 'most challenging year'

Regional newspaper publisher Archant has refinanced its £50m debt with a deal that will extend its existing facility until April, 2013.

The deal with a range of borrowers, jointly led by the Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Ireland, has secured Archant’s operating cash flow needs and leaves funds for strategic investments, the privately-owned company said today.

Terms of the deal brokered by KPMG mean all of Archant’s day-to-day banking transfers to Royal Bank of Scotland. No further details, including those about repayment, were announced.

Archant publishes four daily regional newspapers, including the Eastern Daily Press and the East Anglian Daily Times, along with 60 weekly newspapers, 80 monthly magazines and over 180 websites.

Brian McCarthy, Archant finance director, said: “2009 has been the most challenging year for raising new debt for many years.

“The media sector in particular has been under great pressure as a result of the recession and the banking world has also changed. We have concluded a great deal for Archant.”

Archant, the UK’s largest independently-owned regional media business, recorded a year-on-year decline in operating profit of 61.6 per cent during the first six months of the year as large declines in advertising took their toll.

The company which employs 1,750 people across England recorded a drop in operating profit to £5m during the same period, down from £8.1m made during the first half of 2008.

Overall revenue for the six months to the end of June declined by 24.4 per cent to £70.8m, a fall of more than £22m on the same period the previous year.

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