Sunday 28 November 2010

Sunday Times says DMGT may sell Northcliffe

The Sunday Times has again claimed that the Daily Mail and General Trust may sell its regional newspaper arm, Northcliffe.

James Ashton writing in the Business section today claims: "The Daily Mail group is preparing to water down staff pension benefits in a move that may ease the path for the sale of its regional newspaper arm.

"The publisher, which has one of Fleet Street’s best retirement packages, is in talks with pension trustees to cut liabilities of its national and regional schemes. The 2,500 staff affected and pension members should learn the details next month.

"The Mail closed its final salary scheme to new recruits in 2009. The revised scheme is likely to blend defined benefits with defined contributions.

"Efforts to sell Northcliffe Media, the regional arm, in 2006 hit trouble when trustees raised the spectre of a one-off cash injection to bolster the pension scheme, which would have depressed proceeds from the £1.3 billion deal."

In a separate article, comparing DMGT's business strategy favourably with that of the Guardian, Ashton writes: "Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) has made an easier transition in anticipation of falling newspaper profits. When it finally hives off its regional publishing arm, it will have become a business media firm with just two trophy titles."

The Sunday Times is behind a paywall

  • DMGT reported last week: "Northcliffe: facing another tough year; UK advertising revenue in the first seven weeks down 7% on last year, continuing year-on-year trend experienced in September (like-for-like decline of 8%). Outlook for first quarter not expected to improve on this trend; will also be affected by higher newsprint costs; focus remains on reducing costs and new revenue opportunities."

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