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Dec 16 (Reuters) - Johnston Press Plc, publisher of the Scotsman, the Yorkshire Post and a string of local newspapers, said it had agreed to sell its unit Johnston Publishing East Anglia Ltd to family-owned publisher Iliffe News and Media Ltd for 17 million pounds ($21.13 million) in cash.
Shares in Johnston Press opened about 15 percent higher at 13.26 pence on the London Stock Exchange.
Johnston Press has been battling a fall in advertising spending, much like other publishers, and has resorted to cutting jobs at an average rate of 12.2 percent in the last five years to reduce costs.
The company, which has lost more than 90 percent of its market value since May 2014, has been selling off assets to reduce debt. The company said in July it would sell its Isle of Man titles to Tindle Newspapers for 4.25 million pounds.
Johnston Press shareholder Crystal Amber Fund Ltd can help management avoid a poor debt restructuring deal, the hedge fund's chief executive officer told Reuters in September.
Johnston Press, which publishes the Suffolk Free Press, the Haverhill Echo, the Newmarket Journal, the Bury Free Press and the Diss Express in East Anglia, said proceeds from the sale would be used to reduce the company's net debt.
The sale includes titles and related intellectual property rights of Johnston Publishing East Anglia and would help Johnston Press focus on its selected markets and digital growth, the company said in a statement.
$1 = 0.8044 pounds Reporting by Sanjeeban Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair