Newbury: Law firm Blake Morgan advises sale of weekly newspaper

Blake Morgan’s corporate team advised Newbury News on its sale to Newbury News and Media, a joint venture formed by Edward Iliffe and Peter Fowler.

The Newbury Weekly News, which has served the community of West Berkshire for 152 years, incorporates the award-winning website, free weekly newspaper The Newbury and Thatcham Advertiser and quality quarterly magazine Out & About.

The Newbury Weekly News has been owned by the same family since its early beginnings and moved its printing to Iliffe Print Cambridge in 2018 after it made the difficult decision to close its own press in Newbury.

Newbury News chief executive James Gurney said: “The Newbury Weekly News is a successful and much-loved title and I am delighted that the paper will remain independent. Over the past 10 years the industry has become increasingly challenging for smaller independently-owned local newspaper publishers.

“The completion of this deal will allow us to plug into a larger group where there are opportunities to share resources and ideas, as well as to invest in exciting new initiatives that will help ensure we continue to engage with the local community, producing exceptional content that covers our entire area.”

To bring the deal to a successful conclusion Blake Morgan’s team had to contend with complex issues regarding the company’s final salary pension scheme, a restructuring involving a diverse selection of property assets and a broad, family ownership group which was understandably keen to ensure that the titles ended up in the best hands.   

Commenting on Blake Morgan’s involvement, Gurney said: “We are hugely grateful for the expertise and guidance provided by Blake Morgan on this transaction. James Hawkeswood and his team were committed and responsive at all times, and provided pragmatic and commercial input throughout the process.  It is fair to say they were absolutely integral in helping the board to deliver a great result for the shareholders.”