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Reach ends talks with JPI Media, posts improvement in LFL sales

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Friday 29 Nov 2019

LONDON (ShareCast) - (Sharecast News) - Publisher Reach said on Friday that it was no longer in talks about buying some of the assets of JPI Media as it reported an improvement in like-for-like revenues.
The owner of the Daily Mirror and Daily Express announced in July that it was in the early stages of discussions with JPI Media, formerly known as Johnston Press. While it is no longer in talks with the owner of the i, the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, Reach said "merger and acquisition opportunities which would accelerate the company's strategy will continue to be reviewed on a regular and disciplined basis".

The group also provided an update on trading from 1 July to date, which it said had been "steady". Like-for-like revenue was down 4.4%, but this was an improvement on the 6.6% decline seen in the same period last year. Revenue from the print division fell 7.3% but digital revenues grew 14%. This is versus an 8.2% fall and a 9.3% increase, respectively, last year.

Reach said cash generation and its balance remained strong during the period. As a result, it expects to show a net positive cash balance at the year end.

Chief executive officer Jim Mullen said: "We have made good financial and operational progress during the period, including an improved like-for-like revenue trend and a further reduction in net debt.

"The Reach brands continue to have real relevance at both a national and local level, as is demonstrated by our considerable audience growth. We are working to complement our audience reach with a significant depth of customer insight and data that will allow us to build an intelligent, relevant and trusted content business for the long term."

The company said it was confident of meeting its full-year expectations.

Broker Peel Hunt welcomed news that talks with JPI had ended.

At 1030 GMT, the shares were up 12% at 93.40p.

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