Activist Said to Seek Bond Restructuring at Johnston Press

  • Crystal Amber Fund said to seek 30 percent hit for holders
  • U.K. publisher of i, Scotsman newspapers weighed down by debt

An activist investor that owns a stake in debt-burdened U.K. newspaper publisher Johnston Press Plc is seeking to restructure 220 million pounds ($286 million) worth of bonds to lower their value by 30 percent, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The push for a debt restructuring by Crystal Amber Fund, which holds 3 percent of the owner of newspapers like i, the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, comes as Johnston Press shares bounce back after a long slide. 

The shares were up 7.8 percent to 20.75 pence at 11 a.m. in London after a 28 percent surge on Thursday. They’ve have swung wildly since August, when the company wrote down the value of its local newspapers and its printing presses, booking 224 million pounds in impairment charges.

The bonds due June 2019 are quoted at 60.6 pence on the pound on Friday, up 9 pence from a record low reached on Aug. 9, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Johnston Press, whose market value has slumped to about 23 million pounds, says it is exploring the sale of assets in order to bring down its debt. The bonds are due in 2019.

The company’s strategy is to shore up the balance sheet by selling publications, a spokesman said.

Crystal Amber, which has played a role in pushing for changes of ownership at companies such as movie-studio operator Pinewood Group Plc, chocolatier Thorntons and Irish airline Aer Lingus, declined to comment.

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