Trinity Mirror moves for Daily Express publisher

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United Kingdom newspaper group Trinity Mirror PLC said on Friday it will buy the publishing assets of Northern & Shell - which owns titles such as the "Daily Express", "Sunday Express" and 'OK!' magazine - for GBP126.7 million.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority will probably want to examine the deal, but Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox says the combined circulation of the group's national titles would still be less than The Sun's and would not dominate the ad market, The Guardian reports.

Sale talks were announced in September, but a deal between the two has been on the cards for some time.

Furthermore, the group said it will deliver £20m in annualised cost synergies by 2020, with a significant amount of these savings achieved in 2019.

Mr Fox said a chunk of the cost savings would come from sharing stories across titles, with the same sport and features content being used in both the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express.

Trinity will fund the cash element of the purchase price, the contributions to the Northern & Shell pension schemes, and transaction costs by the utilisation of a new £75m amortising term loan facility, which will be fully drawn, with the balance being drawn down from its existing debt facility and cash balances.

The Daily Mirror's parent company had initially only sought a minority stake in Desmond's publishing empire, but cited "strong strategic rationale" behind the move to buy the publishing assets, which also include celebrity magazines OK! and New!

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The stock market is now valuing Trinity Mirror as if it is in terminal decline with a price to earnings ratio of 2.2 (based on forecasts which do not take account the impact of this deal). The BBC claims the merger is about survival, saying: "Fifty years ago, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express were Britain's two biggest papers, selling more than eight million copies a day".

The other question is, what will happen to the journalism? It would be a fearless owner who took it in a radical new direction.

The sale spells the end of Desmond's 18 years as a United Kingdom newspaper owner.

It publishes the Daily Record, the Sunday People and more than 200 regional newspapers, including the Birmingham Post and the Manchester Evening News.

The possibility of an Express takeover by Trinity Mirror has been on the cards for several years now.

If a publisher is not producing quality content then it will struggle to hang on to readers and ultimately advertisers whether this content is being accessed online or through a physical product.

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