Sunday 28 October 2012

Those were the days for regional newspaper deals

The Sunday Times has reported that the Daily Mail and General Trust is in talks to "ditch" Northcliffe - its regional newspaper group - by selling it to David Montgomery for £110 million.

Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman is also reporting that Montgomery is in talks with Iliffe News and Media, owner of the Cambridge News, in an "audacious attempt" to merge the business with the Northcliffe titles.  

He claims: "The deal will create a business with more than £250m of annual revenue and could spark a bidding war in the regional newspaper industry involving Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press, two of the three largest players.

"I understand that Crispin Odey, whose hedge fund Odey Asset Management is among the most prominent names in the City, has agreed to support a deal that would combine Iliffe and Northcliffe. They will be folded into a new vehicle called Local World plc that will be privately-owned. Mr Montgomery will own a stake in it, while Iliffe's parent group, Yattendon, and DMGT will between them own close to 50%."

PA quotes DMGT: "In response to media speculation, DMGT confirms that it is currently in talks regarding the future of Northcliffe Media. No deal or transaction has been agreed but if these talks move to the point where agreement is reached, an announcement will be made to the market."

The Telegraph says Trinity Mirror has also been involved in the talks over the future of the Northcliffe and Iliffe titles.

The latest sale speculation reminded me that there was a time when regional titles sold for a premium. Remember these deals?
  • 1994 Northcliffe Newspapers bought Nottingham Evening Post for £93m. 
  • 1997 Midland Independent Newspapers is bought by Mirror Group for £297 million.1998 Fourth largest regional press publisher, United Provincial Newspapers, is sold in two deals: UPN Yorkshire and Lancashire newspapers sold to Regional Independent Media for £360m and United Southern Publications sold to Southnews for £47.5m.
  • 1999 Trinity merges with Mirror Group Newspapers in a deal worth £1.3 billion. Newsquest is bought by US publisher Gannett for £904 million. Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers is bought by Johnston Press for £266m.
  • 2000 Newscom is sold to Newsquest Media Group for £444m, Adscene titles are sold to Southnews (£52m)and Northcliffe Newspapers, Belfast Telegraph Newspapers are sold by Trinity Mirror to Independent News & Media for £300m, Bristol United Press is sold to Northcliffe Newspapers Group, and Southnews is sold to Trinity Mirror for £285m. 
  • 2002 Johnston Press acquires Regional Independent Media's 53 regional newspaper titles in a £560 million deal. 
The Sunday Times is behind a paywall. 
Pic: Jon Slattery

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