Trinity Mirror Agrees to Buy U.K. Tabloid Rival
Posted February 9, 2018 11:24 a.m. EST
As the tabloids might say: Trinity Mirror in Daily Express Shock!
Trinity Mirror, which publishes The Daily Mirror, said Friday that it had agreed to acquire the print assets of the Northern & Shell Media Group, which publishes The Daily Express, in a deal that would bring together news outlets on opposite ends of the political spectrum and shake up Britain’s fiercely competitive newspaper market.
The deal is valued at 126.7 million pounds, or about $176 million. Assuming it goes through, Trinity Mirror’s holdings will run the political gamut, from The Daily Mirror, the best-selling newspaper in Britain on the left, to The Daily Express on the right.
Trinity Mirror publishes more than 150 newspapers in Britain and Ireland, including the Manchester Evening News, and the purchase would add a diverse group of other publications to that roster, including the celebrity magazines OK!, New! and Star and the newspapers The Sunday Express, The Daily Star and The Daily Star Sunday.
The deal also clears the way for the exit from the news media industry of Richard Desmond, Northern & Shell’s colorful chairman and founder, a billionaire who made his money in adult and celebrity magazines.
Simon Fox, the Trinity Mirror chief executive, said in a statement that the deal would benefit readers and shareholders, adding that Northern & Shell’s titles would bring his company “a large and loyal readership, a growing digital presence and a stable revenue mix.”
Publishers are looking to control costs as newspapers and magazines have struggled with falling circulation and declining print advertising, and newspapers in Britain have also had to contend with a phone-hacking scandal that was especially damaging to the tabloids.
Under the terms of the deal, Trinity Mirror would initially pay 47.7 million pounds in cash and issue 20 million pounds in shares, and then pay an additional 59 million pounds between 2020 and 2023. Trinity Mirror said it expected the deal to save the company 20 million pounds a year by 2020.
The deal came together six months after Trinity Mirror said it was in negotiations to potentially buy Northern & Shell’s print assets and after Trinity Mirror had previously flirted with buying the company’s newspaper assets.
Trinity Mirror initially expressed an interest in Northern & Shell’s newspapers in 2015, but after failing to reach a deal, it acquired the newspaper publisher Local World Holdings in November of that year for 187.4 million pounds, including debt.
The Mirror and Express were once the deadliest of rivals; in the decades after World War II, they were Britain’s two best-selling daily newspapers, each with a circulation that peaked well over 4 million.
In December, according to ABC, the industry body that audits British newspaper circulations, The Daily Mirror sold an average of 581,877 copies a day, and The Daily Express a daily average of 364,933.