The New European bought by consortium including ex-BBC boss

A consortium including the former New York Times chief executive Mark Thompson and the former Financial Times editor Lionel Barber has backed a management buyout of the New European, the anti-Brexit weekly founded in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum.

Thompson – also a former director general of the BBC – is perhaps the most prominent of the group supporting the buyout, led by the newspaper’s founder, Matt Kelly, alongside the Irish media executive Gavin O’Reilly.

The purchase from the regional newspaper owner Archant leaves Kelly as chief executive and editor-in-chief, as well as majority shareholder of the newly formed the New European Ltd. O’Reilly will become the company’s executive chairman.

The pair said they exceeded their fundraising target to support the takeover after receiving financial backing from Thompson, Barber and Taavet Hinrikus, a co-founder of money transfer business TransferWise. The BBC reported there were 14 investors in total.

The title, a small but vocal bastion of support for the remain cause and a second referendum before the UK’s departure from the EU was finally sealed, has a retail, home subscription and digital circulation of about 20,000 a week, it said.

The magazine’s production budget of £6,500 an issue will immediately rise by 50%, the BBC’s report said. The new business will also take on responsibility for the publication’s back-office costs. It will lose money in 2021 but is projected to return to profit next year.

Kelly said: “I’m very excited to lead this next, new chapter in the remarkable life of the New European, building on its success of the past several years.

“Since the referendum, the New European has shown that there is a significant market for high-quality, informative, provocative and entertaining journalism written for an audience who care deeply about both Britain and Europe’s future.

“With new investment capital in place and seasoned media investors, we have a very clear vision of how we can better enhance the experience for our readers and employ new innovations and product developments.”

O’Reilly said: “Europe is changing and we believe that the New European can continue to play a positive role in constructively debating the continent’s future.

“The New European is unashamedly Europhile to its core, but it puts the values of strong, independent journalism first; interrogating and questioning the institutions and forces shaping us.”