Shares of Johnston Press plunged 17% to a new record low after it said in an AGM trading update that no agreement has been reached with its bondholders on the future structure of the troubled company or its pension scheme.
Johnston Press, the embattled owner of The Scotsman, the i newspaper, the Yorkshire Post and 200 local newspapers, said: ” … there can be no certainty that a formal proposal will be forthcoming.”
Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield resigned last month.
The company said in a trading update for the period from January 1 to May 31 that “trading so far this year has seen group revenues down 9%, but a continuing strong performance from the i newspaper.”
Johnston Press added: “Expectations for the full calendar year 2018 remain in line with market expectations.
“The trading environment remains extremely challenging, exacerbated in recent months by uncertainty around future paper costs and the impact of GDPR on digital advertising revenues.
“We expect to see continued pressure on revenues in the second half of the year, and a requirement for cost savings.
“Cash at bank at the end of May was £24.6 million …
“On 29 March 2017, the group announced it had commenced a strategic review to assess the financing options available to the group in relation to its £220 million 8.625% senior secured notes, which become due for repayment on 1 June 2019.
“The board subsequently announced on 2 November 2017 that an ad hoc committee of bondholders had been formed to consider certain potential amendments to the group’s capital structure, combined with certain proposed amendments to the group’s pension scheme.
“No agreement on these potential amendments has been reached.
“However, the group is continuing to work with the ad hoc committee and its other stakeholders on a number of alternative strategic options for the restructuring or refinancing of the bonds prior to June 2019.
“As stated in the group’s 2017 annual report, any proposal that results from these discussions will remain subject to negotiation and consent of relevant stakeholders, and there can be no certainty that a formal proposal will be forthcoming.”
After its AGM Johnston Press said in a further statement: “Johnston Press notes today’s press reports regarding the company being in discussions regarding a Regulated Apportionment Arrangement with the pension trustees and pensions regulator (RAA).
“The company confirms that an RAA is one of a number of potential strategic options for restructuring or refinancing of the bond being considered by the company and its advisers and in respect of which the company expects to discuss with relevant parties in due course.”