So who has bought what?
Trinity Mirror owns the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People national newspapers, the Sunday Mail and Daily Record in Scotland, and more than 100 regional titles including the Manchester Evening News and Birmingham Post. It has now forked out £200m in a deal for Richard Desmond’s publishing assets, which include the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star, Daily Star Sunday, the magazines OK!, New! and Star, plus the Irish Daily Star.
Why has this deal been done?
Digital-savvy readers are turning away from printed newspapers, which still provide most revenues for publishers from paper sales and advertising. The shift to digital has proved to be exceptionally difficult as Facebook and Google now hoover up the vast majority of online advertising revenue.
Trinity Mirror wants to grow bigger to give it the scale to drive revenues from traditional newspaper operations, and to better fight for digital advertising against the Silicon Valley rivals.
“The background to this deal is a recognition of the need for consolidation in our industry and the vision for creating and sustaining a stronger newspaper group,” said Desmond, in an email to staff.
Will Labour-backing Mirror titles meddle with the Brexit-backing Express stable?
No. At least not according to Simon Fox, the chief executive of Trinity Mirror, said: “The Mirror is not going to go right-wing and the Express is not going to go left-wing. They will absolutely all have editorial independence”.
Really? Surely such deals aim to cut costs by merging operations?
Trinity Mirror has said the takeover will lead to £20m in annual savings, which means job cuts and the pooling of resources. Fox said that while certain areas will be sacrosanct, such as political writers, others such as sport will be subject to merger. One pool of writers will provide content for all five national newspapers.
So what happens next?
The competition regulator will scrutinise a deal of this size, which will give the enlarged Trinity Mirror group control of 24% of UK national newspaper sales. The culture secretary also has the option of intervening if there is considered to be a public interest issue such as media plurality. Trinity Mirror shareholders also have to approve the deal.
Is this the end of Desmond’s time as a media mogul?
Pretty much, yes. Part of the deal will see him become Trinity Mirror’s third-largest shareholder, but the sale will end his 44 years as a publisher, as he refocuses on property development. In his 18 years as owner of Express Newspapers, Desmond has made almost £450m in pay, dividends, rent, and the proceeds of the Trinity Mirror deal. He bought the papers for £125m in 2000.