Johnston Press has challenged its biggest shareholder to come up with a rescue plan for the company after he claimed the board was planning to sell it in a “pre-packaged” deal.

Christen Ager-Hanssen owns more than 20% of Johnston Press, publisher of the i and several regional papers, and has threatened legal action if the company is placed in administration and sold, prompting the publisher to challenge him to find a way to refinance the business.

In a letter to the company, Mr Ager-Hanssen said: “I’m concerned that market manipulation may be at play specifically to enable a pre-packaged sale on terms not in the best interests of the company.”

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