Johnston shares soar 20% as activist ups stake

Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield

UPDATED – Shares of Johnston Press, owner of The Scotsman, the i newspaper and the Yorkshire Post, have risen almost 20% this week amid speculation about the intentions of Guernsey-based hedge fund Crystal Amber Fund Ltd, which has increased its stake in Johnston to 18.63%.

Crystal Amber also revealed this week its stake in STV Group Plc is currently 13.9%.

Crystal Amber has a track record of activist campaigns that include putting pressure on firms to create value for shareholders through corporate activity.

In September, Crystal Amber’s CEO told Reuters: “We have a good track record of assisting companies …

“Our experience is that good management teams welcome our involvement.”

Johnston Press announced the proposed disposal of 13 titles and associated websites in East Anglia and East Midlands to Cambridge-based Iliffe Media for about £17 million to help reduce debt.

“Trading conditions continue to be challenging, with year-on-year advertising revenues (excluding the i newspaper) in November and December (month to date) declining broadly in line with those in the 17 weeks to 29 October 2016,” said Johnston Press on December 16.