Archant looks to the future after securing new investment

Portman House, home of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star

Portman House, home of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star - Credit: Archant

The company that owns the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star has agreed a change of ownership.

Simon Bax, executive chairman of Archant

Simon Bax, executive chairman of Archant - Credit: Archant

Archant - which publishes the EADT, Ipswich Star and many newspaper and magazine titles throughout East Anglia and beyond - has been acquired by new investors who will provide funding to continue its transformation into a successful modern media company.

The announcement also gives security for many hundreds of Archant pensioners and their families, and protects the hundreds of local businesses Archant trades with, who may otherwise have suffered losses had the business, hit hard by Covid-19, been forced into bankruptcy.

Simon Bax, Archant’s Executive Chairman, said safeguarding the interests of local suppliers and customers, and its near-1,000 employees had been his priority.

“Archant and our newspapers and magazines are an intrinsic part of East Anglian life.

“Not only do we employ hundreds of people in the region, but we are also an important part of hundreds of other local businesses who supply us, or depend on us to help grow their business.

“Like so many other businesses, Covid-19 threw us into a very difficult position. Naturally, I am very sad this deal marks the end of ownership of the local families who founded our company all that time ago.

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“But equally I am happy we have found a new partner who respects our heritage and is able to nurture Archant’s future.”

The new owners, family-based firm Rcapital, specialise in backing companies with immediate financial challenges but who otherwise have ambitious and compelling plans for commercial success.

Chris Campbell, partner at Rcapital, said: “We are incredibly pleased to have worked alongside Archant’s management team and KPMG to put forward a plan that will restructure finances and inject fresh capital into one of Britain’s oldest local newspaper brands.

“We are hopeful, that with the support of its creditors, Archant will emerge from this challenging period as a stronger business that continues to provide a vital service to its clients and readership.

“Today’s announcement marks an exciting next phase for both Archant and Rcapital - I am looking forward to working with Simon and his team to deliver on the transformation plan.”

Like many other businesses in the UK, Norwich-based Archant had become increasingly hamstrung by multi-million payments required to pay down the large deficit in its long-defunct company pension scheme.

Under the deal, that pension scheme has been transferred to the Pension Protection Fund, a public body responsible for managing almost a quarter of a million pensions in the UK.

Shareholders in holding company Archant Limited, which has been placed into administration as part of the change of ownership, have been informed their shares are now of no value.

There is no interruption to publishing in the business, which continues to trade as before.