By Max Goldbart, Tuesday 10 January 2017
Trinity Mirror is in talks Northern & Shell with a view to buying a number of the company's national newspaper titles.
After reports emerged yesterday (9 January) that talks had begun, Trinity Mirror responded to speculation saying that it was in an early stage of discussions.
“The Board of Trinity Mirror notes the recent media speculation and confirms that it is at an early stage of discussions towards taking a minority interest in a new company comprising certain of Northern & Shell's assets,” said a spokesman.
“No offer has been made and there is no certainty that any agreement will be reached. A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate.”
PrintWeek contacted Trinity Mirror but no one was available for further comment.
This isn’t the first time speculation has emerged that Trinity Mirror is interested in Northern & Shell titles. In March 2015, Trinity said it was in the early stages of evaluating certain Northern & Shell assets.
Northern & Shell, owned by media mogul Richard Desmond, is the holding company for Express Newspapers, which is comprised of four titles, the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, the highest circulation of which is the Daily Star, with a Monday to Friday circulation of just more than 450,000.
In 2014, Desmond announced that he was looking to reduce headcount at Express Newspapers, which carries an £85m pension deficit, by around 30%.
It's not clear whether the potential deal includes Northern & Shell's Westferry print facility in Luton, or not.
The site, launched in 2011, currently prints the Northern & Shell newspaper titles as well as contract work. Westferry runs four KBA Commander CT presses capable of printing one million full-colour newspapers every three hours. It had sales of £24.8m in the year to 31 December 2015.
Northern & Shell closed its northern print facility, Broughton Printers in Preston, in 2015.
Last November, Trinity announced the proposed closure of its Cardiff printing site, putting 33 jobs at risk. Its other sites are at Birmingham, Cardonald (Glasgow), Oldham, Teeside and Watford.
In a trading update released last December, Trinity announced losses in print advertising and publishing revenue amidst good digital progress.
Desmond first entered the world of newspapers in 2000 when he bought Express Newspapers from United News & Media for £125m. Last year, he was rumoured as a potential buyer for the Polestar Sheffield and Bicester sites.