Trinity Mirror has spoken out about its proposed takeover of various Northern & Shell assets, following press speculation over the weekend.
Sky News and The Guardian, among others, have published reports to suggest that the deal, worth £127m, could take place later this week.
Yesterday (4 February), Sky News reported that Trinity Mirror, and Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond are targeting this Friday for an announcement about the transaction.
A source close to Sky News said the terms of the deal would mean Desmond would not be fully paid out until 2023.
He would receive an immediate £42m cash payment, £20m in Trinity Mirror shares, another £60m deferred over five years and a further £5m in relation to approvals by Irish competition authorities.
Around £40m more would be paid into the pension schemes of the two newspaper companies, following talks with their respective trustees.
But in a statement issued to the Stock Exchange this morning, Trinity Mirror said: “Trinity Mirror notes the media speculation over the weekend about it acquiring certain assets of Northern & Shell.
“As previously announced, discussions are ongoing, but there can be no certainty that a deal will be agreed.”
Last month, two of Trinity Mirror’s 10 biggest shareholders said they were prepared to block a proposed takeover of the Express, the Star and OK! Magazine if the price agreed with Desmond was too high.
Both Aviva Investors and another unnamed shareholder said they were concerned that Desmond would be able to extract too high a price for the titles as part of the Trinity Mirror deal.
A trading update from Trinity Mirror in December showed that the newspaper group was expecting declines in print advertising and circulation revenue of 21% and 7% respectively over Q4 of 2017, and an expected group revenue fall of 9% on a like-for-like basis.
In November, the group also completed a £10m share repurchase that was originally announced in August 2016. Two months prior to that, it closed four of its free local weekly papers.
Trinity Mirror’s share price dropped by 1.35p to 66.65p in early trading but has rallied to 67.07p at the time of writing.