Newsquest had been formed in January 1996 to acquire the Reed Regional Newspapers business. Cinven led the financing of Newsquest's €488million acquisition of Westminster Press in December 1996 from Pearson. The enlarged Newsquest became England's largest regional newspaper group, publishing 180 newspaper titles.
Westminster Press's failure to take advantage of technological advances presented Cinven with an opportunity for value enhancement. Newsquest had identified the same opportunity, resulting in Cinven leading the acquisition of Westminster Press.
Newsquest was an exceptionally well managed business and was one of the most efficient and lowest cost operators in the sector with a very strong profit record. By introducing technology improvements to Westminster Press, it was able to generate substantial profit improvement. At the same time, the consolidation of the two major publishers in the regional newspaper industry created a national market leader. This in turn led to significant synergies, benefits and profit growth.
Newsquest was floated on the London Stock Exchange in October 1997 and subsequently acquired by Gannett Inc, a major US newspaper publisher. We realised a multiple of over three times our investment.