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Following the announcement of a sale of Johnston Press last week including The Scotsman and i titles, the largest shareholder takes steps to protect his position.

The largest shareholder in Johnston Press (JP) has increased his shareholding in the company to 25% to ensure that he will have to be consulted on any plans to sell the business, and to ‘ensure some of the more insane board or adviser actions can be blocked’. 

The Scotsman and i publisher Johnston Press is now up for sale. The Scotsman newspaper is valued at £3 million but the overall company has debts of around £220 million. 

Christen Agers-Hanssen who is CEO of Custos a company he used to increase his shareholding, issued a statement yesterday accusing the board of ‘greed, self-interest and unaccountability’.

He continued : “When I first announced Custos’ fight for shareholder rights in the autumn 2017, I said that the board is doing nothing more than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic and that their only interest in JP was to protect their ability to continue with milking the company for cash. Regrettably I have now been proven right.”

He also accused the board of misrepresenting the arrangements for replacing board members to their shareholders saying “The board of JP are nothing short of a disgrace.”

Claiming that the board have little idea about the newspaper business he said : “They do not understand the concept of monetisation of audience in the digital age. They never had a credible strategy.”

Bloomberg suggest that the company will be broken up despite CEO David King’s suggestion to the board that the ideal outcome was to sell it in one piece. The sale process may last till December but reports are that no bidders have yet approached Rothschild & Co who are managing the sale.