Ager-Hanssen increases Johnston Press holding to block “insane” actions

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

Johnston Press’ largest shareholder has increased its stake in the publisher, following its decision earlier this month to put itself up for sale.

The investment came with an outspoken statement, which criticised the Johnston Press board, calling their behaviour: “symptomatic of today’s society in which greed, selfishness and unaccountability have become the norm.”

Christen Ager-Hanssen, the group CEO of Custos is known for speaking his mind, having called the publisher’s previous CEO a “disaster” for the company.

However, today, as Custos increased its stake from 20% to 24.84%, he went further in his attack:

“Custos is an activist Investor on a mission to fight against this type of board behaviour. When I first announced Custos' campaign to fight for shareholder rights in the autumn 2017, I said that the board is doing nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic ."

Ager-Hanssen then goes on to criticise the board and its advisers, calling them amongst other things, “nothing short of a disgrace.”

“They do not understand the concept of monetisation of audience in the digital age. They never had a credible strategy,” he continued.

The statement continued that Custos had a responsibility to be “active and vocal and to fight this sort of mismanagement.”

“Custos obviously have no confidence in the board or it’s advisers but our increased holding prove that we continue to have confidence in the underlying business. Employees, at all levels, have been reaching out to me from within JP, excited by the prospect of change and offering Custos their support. They crave new leadership and a proper forward thinking strategy fit for the digital age.”

We are awaiting comment from Johnston Press.