May 1, 2018 / 7:49 AM / a year ago

Johnston Press CEO Highfield resigns, CFO King to take over

(Reuters) - Johnston Press Plc CEO Ashley Highfield has resigned after more than six years at the helm, the publisher of The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post newspapers said on Tuesday, and will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer David King.

Shares in the publisher were up 9.2 percent in early trading.

King, a former BBC executive who joined the company in 2013 as CFO, will assume the role of CEO at the company’s annual general meeting on June 5, the company said.

Highfield, who also previously worked at the BBC, resigned citing family reasons and Johnson Press said he had agreed not to put himself up for re-election at the company’s AGM.

The newspaper industry has struggled in recent years as advertisers have migrated to online platforms, forcing several print publishers including Trinity Mirror and Daily Mail and General Trust to cut costs.

Johnston Press, which has over 200 titles, acquired “i”, the cut-price sister paper of The Independent, for 24 million pounds ($33 million) last year to tap into its growing circulation revenue and advertising base.

“I have been privileged to lead Johnston Press during a period of unprecedented turbulence in our industry,” Highfield said, calling the company’s acquisition of the ‘i’ newspaper a particular highlight.

The company said King’s replacement will be appointed in due course.

Top Johnston Press shareholder, Custos Group, said in November it would push for the appointment of Scotland’s former nationalist first minister, Alex Salmond, as the publisher’s chairman.

($1 = 0.7274 pounds)

Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Jason Neely

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