Ashley Highfield leaves Johnston Press to join Oyster Yachts

A former newspaper boss has joined the board of a Hampshire yacht firm recently rescued from administration.

Ashley Highfield (above) officially resigned from his job with Johnston, publisher of the Portsmouth News, on Tuesday following the firm’s annual general meeting.

Details of his appointment at Oyster were revealed after Johnston Press confirmed on Tuesday it was in talks over a debt refinancing deal that could see it offload its under-funded pension scheme to the pensions regulator.

It had announced Mr Highfield’s resignation last month, citing family reasons and “in order to fulfil his plans to transition to be a ‘plural’ non-executive director as the next phase of his career”.

Mr Highfield, who had been at the helm since 2011 and spearheaded the acquisition of the i newspaper, has been replaced by finance chief David King.

He joins other board members at the firm including former Formula 1 team boss Eddie Jordan and Oyster chief executive Richard Hadida (below) – the gaming entrepreneur who bought the Southampton and Norfolk-based business after it went into administration earlier this year.

Richard Hadida stepped in and bought the company

Other members of the new board include Becky Bridgen, who joins Oyster following a successful career with PwC, with recent experience as part of the deals team providing financial advice to FTSE 100 companies; former Barlcays foreign exchange boss Ivan Ritossa, and Rob Humphreys, who has been responsible for designing over 20 Oyster models, including the 118, 575 and flagship 885.

In February, the yachting world was rocked by the news that Southampton-based Oyster Yachts was facing liquidation.

The luxury yacht maker had ended 2017 with an £80 million order book.

However the firm’s Dutch owners HTP Investments pulled the plug on the company and almost 400 employees in Southampton and Norfolk were left facing redundancy before Mr Hadida, a fan of the brand, stepped in.

Story by Andrew Ross for the Southern Daily Echo.

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