ALEX Salmond has been dropped from plans to install him as boardroom chair to the troubled publisher Johnston Press, owner of The Scotsman newspaper.

The BBC has reported that Norwegian investor Christen Ager-Hanssen, who owns 20 per cent of the company shares and previously announced takeover plans, said the former first minister was "a great guy, but I decided that [would be] too politically infected".

He has said that he intends to build that up to nearly 30%.

It comes as the publisher said it was exploring options to restructure or refinance its debt after its shares more than doubled in early trading yesterday.

Johnston Press, which owns more than 200 newspapers including The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post and the i newspaper, confirmed that it was “not in receipt of any plan or proposal from any party for a refinancing or restructuring of its debt”.

A statement issued by Johnston Press said the company “knows of no operational or corporate or other reason for the price movement”.

Mr Ager-Hanssen told BBC Scotland: "Now that we're going into restructuring, we'd like to have a board with more knowledge and understanding about the technology element of media rather than a public figurehead."

The digital entrepreneur began to push the board last October, but stopped when he found a "poison pill" defence against hostile takeovers - a clause in bond-funding that would hand the company to lenders if the board were to be ousted.

The firm is carrying bond debt of £225million, which is due to be repaid in June 2019. It has been trying for months to reach a deal with the bond-holders.

Shares closed up 74% at 6.18p.

Mr Ager-Hanssen told BBC Scotland that it was not his company, Custos Group, that was trading the shares.

He has written to the board, saying he would like to open talks.

The statement said: "The company received a letter from Custos Group on Friday 20 July, and notes the press commentary on this over recent days.

"The company confirms that it is not in receipt of any plan or proposal from any party for a refinancing or restructuring of its debt. Further announcements will be made as appropriate.

"As stated previously, any proposal that results from these discussions will remain subject to negotiation and consent of relevant stakeholders, and there can be no certainty that a formal proposal will be forthcoming."

Mr Salmond, who lost his Westminster seat in 2017's general election, said in November he would take on the role if plans led by Mr Ager-Hanssen were approved by shareholders, but added that he would not have editorial control.