Leading UK newspaper group Archant is up for sale just 18 months after being acquired by a private equity group.
The Norwich-based media company, whose titles include the Eastern Daily Press, London’s Ham & High Express, as well as newspapers and magazines in East Anglin and the southeast, was bought by the investment group Rcapital in August 2020.
Since then the investors have offloaded some of the group’s titles including the New European to a consortium including the former BBC director general Mark Thompson and the ex-Financial Times editor Lionel Barber.
The proposed sale is already generating interest with National World which owns more than 100 local and regional titles including the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post, and Newsquest, the UK’s second biggest regional player, with 200 titles, including the Argus in Brighton, the Northern Echo in Darlington and the Glasgow Times, in the running.
Reach, which owns Mirror, Star and Express national papers and almost 200 regional print and digital titles, including the Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo, could also make the shortlist of buyers, though it might have to overcome regulatory issues because of its competing digital brands in the east of England.
Archant has struggled with the ongoing shift from print to digital and has seen profits levels drop in recent years. It currently makes about £50m in annual revenues, down from almost £100m in 2017, generating a modest profit.