Johnston Press investor seeks meeting to oust chairman
THE second largest investor in Johnston Press, which owns the i and The Scotsman newspapers, is planning to demand a shareholder meeting in a bid to oust its chairman.
Christen Ager-Hanssen, a Norwegian businessman whose investment firm Custos has a 12.6pc stake in the media group, is to write to Johnston Press’s board later this week to request an extraordinary general meeting.
He is expected to seek the removal of Camilla Rhodes, the company’s interim chairman, and to try and install himself in her place, as well as demanding other changes to the board’s make-up.
Mr Ager-Hanssen is thought to have approached Crystal Amber, the company’s largest investor, for support for his plan, although it was unclear whether this had been successful.
Mr Ager-Hanssen has been building up a stake in the debt-laden publisher, and said in August that he planned to refinance the £220m bond debt casting a shadow over the future of the 250-year-old company, which also owns scores of local newspapers.
Earlier this week, Johnston Press said it was approaching its biggest bondholders to form a committee with which to negotiate ahead of the maturity of the bonds which are due to be repaid in 2019.
A decline in advertising revenues across print media has hit the business hard, and it currently has a stock market valuation of just £15.35m.
Mr Ager-Hanssen is thought to be building his holding up to the 29.9pc threshold needed to make a takeover bid for the company. Last month, he was linked with a takeover of the UK freesheet Metro. His company Custos also owns Swedish newspaper Metro, which he bought earlier this year, but which is unrelated to the British newspaper of the same name.
Johnston Press declined to comment on Mr Ager-Hanssen’s demands.