Ager-Hanssen welcomes exit of 'disaster' Highfield from Johnston Press

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Christen Ager-Hanssen

Christen Ager-Hanssen, the biggest shareholder in Johnston Press, has welcomed the departure of chief executive Ashley Highfield, describing him as “a disaster”, but says it amounts to “no more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”.

Highfield stepped down for what were described as “family reasons” last week following seven years at the helm o the publisher.

Chief financial officer David King will take on the role after the company’s AGM next month.

“I’m very happy that the board have taken our view on the situation with Highfield - he was a disaster for the company,” Ager-Hanssen, whose Custos Group owns 20% of the regional publisher, told Hold The Front Page.

“Let’s hope we now can move forward and sort out the mess he created in Johnston Press PLC.

“The board is doing no more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. They literally have no clue as to how create shareholder value.

“They do not understand the concept of monetisation of audience in the digital age. They have no credible strategy. Period.”

Ager-Hanssen added that Custos planned to increase its shareholding in the company to 29.9%.