9th December 1998

Guernsey and Jersey newspapers agree to merge

Will they or won’t they? The saga of the Guernsey Press and Jersey Evening Post had been rumbling on (and off and on) for over nine years by the time the two finally agreed to merge on 9 December 1998.

The saga had kicked off in early October 1989 when Guiton Group, owner and publisher of the Jersey Evening Post, made a £14.6m offer of shares to acquire the Guernsey Press. Guernsey Press had swiftly rejected the offer, with chairman Ken Rowe pointing out that acceptance would have given Jersey control of Guernsey’s only locally-produced daily paper.

Nonetheless, it must have been a tempting offer for Guernsey Press shareholders, whose shares were trading at 200p each at the time. Guiton Group, which already owned 2.4% of the company, was offering to buy them with an immediate profit of 55p each.

However, the show of interest from Guiton Group was enough to push Guernsey Press’s shares higher, to 240p by the end of the month, forcing Guiton to increase its offer to compensate. By early December, its opening bid of £14.6m had increased to just over £17m.

A Guernsey paper run from Guernsey

Guiton Group was keen to point out that while the Guernsey Press would retain its editorial independence, a merged group would benefit from some significant cost savings. It could place larger orders for paper, ink and supplies for its shops, for example, which would allow it to benefit from economies of scale. The printing plant on Guernsey would also needed to be updated within the next few years and doing so as part of a larger group would allow the titles to share both the cost and the benefit of the new machinery.

By the close of negotiations, Guiton Group’s bid was worth just under 301p for every Guernsey Press share, with the option to take half in cash and half in shares. Previously, it had only been offering a share swap.

This still wasn’t enough, though. Guernsey Press’s 200-odd shareholders, a large proportion of whom were local, rejected the offer.

A successful offer

However, nine years later it was a very different story. On 9 December 1998, the two did finally become one, on a very similar basis as Guiton Group had been offering in 1989. This time around, each Guernsey Press shareholder would receive 226p in cash and half of a share in the merged company. The combined value was equivalent to 309p for each Guernsey Press share, giving existing shareholders a profit of almost 50%.

Nearly three quarters of the Guernsey shareholders accepted the offer. When combined with the 10% of the company Guiton Group already owned, it gave the Jersey publisher control of 83% of Guernsey Press.
Four years later, Claverley Group bought the combined company for £76m.

 

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Other events that occured in December

French fishing boats prepare to invade 1st
Two cargo ships collide on their way to Guernsey 2nd
Guernseyman Herbert Le Patourel wrongly thought killed 3rd
A Guernsey funeral takes place in Cornwall 4th
Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked 5th
The Guernsey Tapestry is completed 6th
Air UK Fokker overshoots Guernsey runway 7th
Naftel’s paintings go on display 8th
Guernsey and Jersey newspapers agree to merge 9th
Sark holds its first election 10th
Beau Sejour opens for business 11th
Victor Hugo flees France and Napoleon 12th
Explorer Edmund Kennedy is speared to death 13th
Author Mary Ann Shaffer is born
Herm bribery case comes to court 14th
Alderney’s evacuees return to their island 15th
Guillaume de Beauvoir appointed dean of English Church in Geneva 16th
Castle Cornet surrenders to Guernsey 17th
Telex, phones and telegram cables go quiet 18th
Guernsey shipwreck results in starvation 19th
Channel Islands Securities Exchange founded 20th
G-COBO has a bumpy flight 21st
Guernsey struck by an earthquake 22nd
William Hedley Cliff buys Jethou 23rd
Wombles author Liza Beresford dies 24th
Asterix is discovered in St Peter Port harbour 25th
Guille and Alles lease the Assembly Rooms 26th
The Red Cross saves Guernsey from starvation 27th
Operation Hardtack targets the Channel Islands 28th
Ebenezer Le Page author GB Edwards dies 29th
Castle Cornet is struck by lightning 30th
Guernsey Police makes the world’s first underwater arrest 31st