The Daily Mail & General Trust showed it had no sentimental attachment to its newspapers when it shocked the industry by putting its Northcliffe titles up for sale in 2005, Peter Williams, the company's long-serving finance director, says in an interview with the Financial Times today.
Significantly, Williams says of the possible sale of a majority stake in the London Evening Standard to Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev: "From our point of view [the Standard approach] is simply a commercial transaction, equally as if we had a loss-making B2B business. That is the way we think of it. We went through the emotional stuff with the Northcliffe decision, I think."
The FT points out that though the sale of Northcliffe failed it did "show the group was open to selling treasured assets." Williams concludes."To be honest, we don't see this [proposed Evening Standard deal] as a hugely significant event."
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