Trinity Mirror in talks to buy Express owner

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-BBC NEWS

The owner of the Daily Mirror has said it is in talks to buy the owner of the Daily Express and Daily Star.

Trinity Mirror hopes to buy all of the publishing assets of Northern & Shell, which also owns celebrity magazine OK!.

As well as the Mirror titles, Trinity Mirror also publishes the Daily Record, the Sunday People and more than two hundred regional newspapers.

Northern & Shell is owned by Richard Desmond, who paid £125m for the Express titles in 2000.

It had previously been in talks to take a minority stake in the company.

The company currently owns four national newspaper titles - the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday. It also publishes celebrity magazines OK!, new! and Star, and has a 50% stake in the Irish Daily Star.
In 2014, Mr Desmond sold Channel 5 to MTV-owner, Viacom for £463m.

'Huge challenges'

With more than 260 titles to its name, Trinity Mirror publishes regional papers throughout the country, including the Manchester Evening News, Birmingham Post and the Reading Post.

In 2015, Trinity acquired rival regional publisher Local World for £220m, which was created and run by former News of the World editor David Montgomery.

Earlier reports suggested Mr Montgomery, who is now a media executive and investor, was planning to create a new deal with private equity firms to takeover Northern & Shell, with Trinity as a minority stakeholder.

The BBC's media editor, Amol Rajan, said this appears to have fallen through and that it looked as if Mr Desmond was getting out of the media industry altogether.

"He said he is selling his big profit-making newspapers to Trinity Mirror and this suggests he thinks print is not where a businessman like him should be.

"The reason this is happening is Fleet Street is facing huge, huge structural challenges, with readers and advertisers moving very quickly to online platforms.

"We have a lot of newspapers for a relatively small country in terms of readership."

He said there was going to be "massive consolidation" within the industry due to a decline in print advertising.

In its statement, Trinity Mirror said: "The board of Trinity Mirror notes that it is now in discussions to acquire 100 percent of the publishing assets of Northern & Shell."

It added that there was no certainty an agreement would be reached, and any deal would need to be approved by Trinity Mirror shareholders.

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