| LONDON/BENGALURU, Sept 29
LONDON/BENGALURU, Sept 29 Johnston Press
shareholder Crystal Amber Fund Ltd can help management
avoid a poor debt restructuring deal, the hedge fund's chief
executive officer told Reuters.
"We have a good track record of assisting companies,"
Richard Bernstein told Reuters on Tuesday, ahead of
London-listed activist manager Crystal Amber disclosing it had
raised its stake in Johnston Press to 6.74 percent from 5.42
The rise in shareholding came after a 11.5 percent slide in
the stock on Sept. 14.
"Our experience is that good management teams welcome our
involvement. We hope that management at Johnston Press will
allow us to help," he said.
More than 93 percent has been wiped off the value of
Johnston Press shares since a debt restructuring deal was
approved in May 2014 at a general meeting. bit.ly/2d9fnmr
The company began a 360 million pound ($467.82 million)
capital refinancing plan in 2014 through the issue of new
shares, bonds and a 25-million-pound credit facility. bit.ly/2cV2tqY
Chief Executive Ashley Highfield received a 1.65 million
pound pay package in 2014 after overseeing the restructuring,
with 483,000 pounds awarded as a bonus, the annual report
showed. His salary fell 65 percent to 581,000 pounds in 2015.
"Sadly, it appears that the only winners last time around
were the team of advisers who got paid a shocking 19 million
pounds," Bernstein told Reuters.
"Based on the outcome in 2014, we lack the visibility of how
the result will be any different this time around. The omens are
Johnston Press declined to comment. The company's debt
stands at 137.7 million pounds, as on Aug. 4, according to the
company's interim results report.
Publishers have been struggling to grow their revenue as
Facebook, Alphabet's Google and mobile
advertisements continue to bite into spending on advertising
revenue for print media.
Johnston Press, which reported a 27 percent fall in
first-half adjusted pretax profit is trying to realign its
operations to grow its digital business amidst falling
The newspaper publisher sold its Isle of Man Tindle
Newspapers Ltd for 4.25 million pounds in July, as the company
looks to cut debt after its i newspaper acquisition.
Crystal Amber first disclosed a 3.29 percent stake in
Johnston Press on Feb. 3, although Crystal Amber has held a
small position in Johnston Press since before 2014.
($1 = 0.7695 pounds)
(Reporting by Maiya Keidan, Additional reporting by Sanjeeban
Sarkar and Pranav Kiran; Editing by Sunil Nair)