JOHNSTON Press saw shares climb more than 14 per cent yesterday after Norwegian investor Christen Ager-Hanssen indicated he planned to increase his stake in the business, writes Kevin Scott.

Mr Ager-Hanssen bought up more than five per cent of the company’s shares on Wednesday through his Custos private equity company, which owns Swedish freesheet Metro, leading shares to climb 13 per cent.

Johnston Press, which owns the i and The Scotsman newspapers, is heavily debt- laden and has been subject to speculation it could be taken over by US-based hedge funds.

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Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Ager-Hanssen said: “I believe in the company and I think they will be able to sort out the bond issue and that we can help them do that. I think we need to move quite quickly. This is something that will happen over the next six months.”

The firm is carrying bond debt of £225million, which is due to be repaid in June 2019.

Johnston Press is in the midst of a restructuring led by chief executive Ashley Highfield. Mr Ager-Hanssen said he had investors lined up to take on the debt while ensuring shareholders, which include activist investor Crystal Amber, maintain control of the business.

Over the last three years Johnston Press’ market value has fallen to about £15m.