The Board of Johnston Press plc ('Johnston Press') announces today that it has entered into an agreement with the shareholders of The Leinster Leader Limited ('The Leinster Leader', 'the Company') to acquire the entire issued share capital of the Company.
The Leinster Leader is a privately owned company with 27 shareholders. Its group of companies publish six weekly paid-for newspapers in the Republic of Ireland, comprising the Leinster Leader, Leinster Express, Offaly Express, Dundalk Democrat, Limerick Leader and The Echo which was acquired by the Company on 5 August 2005. The Company also publishes a paid-for evening newspaper in Limerick three days per week. Total circulation amounts to c. 92,000 newspapers of which c. 72,000 comprise sales of weekly newspapers and c. 20,000 sales of the evening titles. The Leinster Leader has recently commissioned a new print facility on a green field site in Limerick and for the first time this enables the Company to print all Leinster Leader titles in-house. From the management accounts, total revenues for the year to 31 August 2005 were approximately €21.1 million and this represents an estimated growth of 15% on the prior year. EBITDA on the same basis was €8.0 million representing an increase of 31%. The gross assets from the management accounts as at 31 August 2005 were €30.2 million.
Johnston Press believes that The Leinster Leader represents an attractive and complementary addition to its recently acquired portfolio of titles in the Republic of Ireland. As well as extending Johnston Press' presence in these profitable and well-established markets, the acquisition will also provide opportunities for operational and purchasing synergies.
Under the terms of the agreement, Johnston Press has agreed to acquire The Leinster Leader for an aggregate cash consideration of €138.6 million on a debt free basis and this consideration will be satisfied from Johnston Press' banking facilities. Johnston Press expects that the acquisition of The Leinster Leader will be earnings enhancing (excluding the impact of acquisition related exceptional items) in the current financial year.
The acquisition is subject to the approval of the Irish Competition Authority and the Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment under the legislation governing competition and the ownership of newspapers.
Johnston Press plc
0131 225 3361
020 7466 5000
Richard Oldworth/Suzanne Brocks