Alarms bells ring for pensioners as publisher Archant negotiates rescue

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One of the UK’s oldest publishers is set to change hands leaving hundreds of pensioners potentially out of pocket.

Archant, the publisher of the Ham & High and Eastern Daily News, has negotiated a rescue deal by private equity investor Rcapital that will see its pension fund liabilities shifted into the Pension Lifeboat scheme.

The 175-year old publisher’s holding company will enter administration and its pension liabilities be put into Pension Protection Fund to be assessed, a move likely to mean lower payouts to scheme members already in retirement.

Archant would then be restructured using a CVA process with Rcapital set to become the controlling shareholder of the ongoing business, Archant Community Media Ltd, in return for a substantial investment.

Other creditors including HMRC and  HSBC would also see hefty reductions in money owed to them, according to Sky News.

“The pressure on the company has been compounded by the significant deficit in the pension scheme and the longer-term funding requirements necessary to meet the scheme contributions,” the broadcaster reported.

Archant’s traditional titles have struggled with falling advertising revenues and readership, a trend that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, the group announced a partnership with Google owner Alphabet to develop a local digital news service.

A first website in Peterborough is already generating £4mln a year in revenues, according to reports today.

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