Lloyds refinances Express & Star owner

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LLOYDS TSB has agreed a multi-million refinancing deal with media publishing firm Claverley Group, owner of the Express & Star newspaper series.

The deal, which marks a change of bank for Claverley Group, involves a term debt spread over five years as well as revolving credit and overdraft facilities and will be used to support the group’s day-to-day activity as well as its continued development.

Despite continuing challenges within the newspaper industry sector and the difficult economic climate generally, the group’s flagship title, the Express & Star, continues to outperform all other regional newspapers in terms of sales.

Rob Cross, group financial director, Claverley Group said: “Securing a financial solution that meets our requirements so well is extremely good news for the whole Claverley Group.  

“In many ways, when changing bank the numbers part of the equation is the easy bit. It’s the ability to foster a good working relationship and develop a good degree of trust and mutual understanding with a new banking partner which is key. We have been able to achieve this with Lloyds TSB.”   

The deal marks a new phase of development for the Claverley Group which sees former Trinity Mirror Regional Managing Director, Steve Brown, take over as Group Chief Executive from Graham Evers , who has become Deputy Chairman.

Chris Pennick, Relationship Director, Lloyds TSB, said: “Having taken the time to get to know the management teams of each of Claverley Group’s businesses it was clear that the whole group has clear strategic direction and a robust business plan.  

“We’re pleased to be supporting the company’s ongoing success with this long-term facility and have every confidence that the Claverley Group will continue to go from strength to strength in 2010 and beyond.”

Alongside its core regional news titles – which, in addition to the Express & Star, include the Shropshire Star, the Jersey Evening Post, the Guernsey Press and the Chronicle series – Claverley Group owns three commercial radio stations in the West Midlands: Telford FM, The Wyre, broadcasting in Kidderminster and The Severn, broadcasting in Shrewsbury & Oswestry.

The company also has interests in commercial printing and computer systems, owning Telford-based printing firm Precision Colour Printing as well as publishing solutions firm, Press Computer Systems and offshore IT services company, ITEX.