Newspaper publishers combine
Trinity Mirror swoops to create biggest regional group
The anticipated deal is thought likely to trigger a number of other mergers in the industry as publishers attempt to stem the decline of newspaper sales and make the transition to digital publishing.
It follows the acquisition of Clydebank Post owner Romanes by Herald & Times owner Newsquest. Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press, owner of The Scotsman, recently hinted at more merger activity in the sector.
Local World comprises 83 print publications: 16 daily print titles, 2 Metro franchises, 36 paid weekly titles and 29 free weekly titles.
It operates in the South West and Wales, London and the South East, and the Midlands and the North. The group includes 7 of the top 20 regional paid daily titles (by circulation) in England and Wales, which alongside Trinity Mirror’s regional titles, would result in the enlarged group having 13 of the top 20.
Local World’s digital portfolio attracts a growing digital audience with 24 million monthly unique browsers and approximately 167 million monthly page views at June 2015.
It generated revenue of £221m and adjusted operating profit of £39m in 2014.
On completion, Local World CEO David Montgomery will leave the business shortly after completion. Rachel Addison, the chief operating officer, will be promoted to the role of managing director, Local World, reporting to Simon Fox, CEO of Trinity Mirror.
Mr Fox said: “This is a good day for local media. Local World is a business we know and respect and by combining it with Trinity Mirror we will create an organisation of scale, with the talent and financial capacity to invest and adapt to the rapidly changing media landscape. It is a vote of confidence in local press and its future.”
Mr Montgomery said: “Local World was founded three years ago with a clear vision to reinvigorate regional media with an unrelenting focus on our content, audience and advertisers. I am proud of what we have achieved. Local World is full of energy and talent and Trinity Mirror is acquiring a vibrant business with a strong future. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made Local World the success it is today.”
Daily Mail and General Trust is a 38.7% stakeholder in Local World and will receive £73m from selling its holding. In the year to 30 September 2014, DMGT’s share of Local World’s operating profits was £15 million.