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Scotsman group seeks new headquarters as Rockstar prepares to move into Barclay House

Johnston Press and the Scotsman Publications are to quit their shared home at Barclay House in Edinburgh's Holyrood Road next year, to be replaced as tenants by the world-leading Scottish video games maker Rockstar North.

The Sunday Herald understands that Rockstar, whose latest game Grand Theft Auto V broke records with sales of $800 million (£500m) within 24 hours of its September release, will start moving into the landmark building in 2014, following alterations.

It is understood that the plc and the Scotsman group, whose titles include The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Evening News, have yet to find new headquarters in the capital.

Industry sources expect Rockstar to sign the new lease agreement with the building's Irish owner Lochlann Quinn before Christmas.

Built at a cost of £20 million and opened by the Queen on St Andrew's Day 1999, the 75,000 sqft building is named after its original owners, the Barclay Brothers, who owned the ­Scotsman titles between 1995 and 2005.

The building, which has ­spectacular views of the Salisbury Crags, is part of a cluster of developments built to coincide with the launch of the Scottish Parliament, along with Our Dynamic Earth and The Tun.

It is understood that Edinburgh's CDA, the architect's firm which designed the original building, has been commissioned to adapt it from a modern, open-plan newspaper office into a creative hub for the games giant, currently based in Leith Street in the capital.

The Scotsman group, whose ­flagship publication was founded in 1817, was acquired in January 2006 from the Barclays' Press Holdings Group in a £160m deal, as part of an aggressive expansion by its present owner, the Edinburgh-based Johnston Press.

The Barclays retained ownership of the building, but sold it less than a year later to the Irish property magnate and former Allied Irish Bank chairman for £25.85m, a 3.95% initial yield.

Shortly after purchasing the ­Scotsman Group, Johnston Press was caught by the industry-wide advertising and ­newspaper sales slump, seeing its share price plummet more than 90% by 2011. Shares, which peaked at 566.50p in June 2004, closed on Friday at 14.25p.

Occupied by the newspaper group for less than 15 years, the sandstone and glass building at 108 Holyrood Road is the third in Edinburgh to bear the flagship title's thistle masthead, along with earlier homes in Cockburn Street (1864), and North Bridge (1904).

Irish media reported yesterday that Johnston Press was on the verge of ­selling its 14 Irish newspapers, ending the company's interest in the ­Republic.

The titles, including the Kilkenny People and Leinster Leader, were reportedly being sold to Mediaforce for around €8.5 million (£7m), about 97% less than the €300m (£250m) for which they were acquired during the country's ill-fated economic boom.

A spokeswoman for Johnston Press declined to comment on the grounds that "nothing has been signed or agreed, so we have nothing to add".

Neither Neil Gordon of Eric Young and Co, the commercial property ­consultancy believed to be advising Rockstar, nor Colin Steele of Rapleys, believed to be advising Johnston Press, returned calls from the Sunday Herald last night. Ian Stewart, editor of The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, declined to comment.

Rockstar North also failed to respond to messages, as did Frank Hinds, director of architects CDA.

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