Media group Johnston Press is in talks to buy the i newspaper for about £24 million.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the Edinburgh-based owner of The Scotsman said it was in “late stage discussions” over a deal with Independent Print Limited (IPL) for the potential acquisition of the business and certain assets of i.
The firm, led by chief executive Ashley Highfield, added: “There can be no certainty that the discussions between the company and IPL will lead to any definitive agreement concerning the possible acquisition or as to the final terms of any such agreement. Completion of the acquisition would be subject to the approval of shareholders of the company.”
IPL also publishes the Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers and is owned by the Lebedev family, whose other media assets include the Evening Standard and local TV station London Live.
Johnston Press, which also owns the Edinburgh Evening News, Scotland on Sunday, Yorkshire Post and scores of local newspapers and websites, said the purchase price was likely to be £24m, adding that i generated an operating profit of £5.2m in the year to the end of September.
It said a deal would create the UK’s fourth largest print publisher, with more than 600,000 paid-for copies a day, and greater reach would “improve the ability to gain a greater share of the national advertising market”.
The company added: “i has growing circulation revenues, and new opportunities arise from a proposed digital product, new geographic markets and from potential cross-selling of i’s advertiser base and vice-versa.”
If the acquisition went ahead, Johnston Press said it would be “cash generative and immediately earnings enhancing”. The group last month revealed that it was exploring the sale of some brands “that are not part of its long-term future”.