Following a wide-ranging review of the company, it has earmarked its newspapers in the Midlands, London and the South East for sale.
It says this will allow it to focus on its national titles, and “key” regional titles in Scotland, the North of England and Wales, which include the Liverpool Echo, Welsh Daily Post, Liverpool Daily Post, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, The Journal and the Paisley Daily Express.
Trinity Mirror said the review had led the Board to conclude that in order to “maximise shareholder value for the medium to long term” it should “rationalise” its portfolio of titles.
It said it had identified that the group’s regional businesses in Scotland, the North of England and Wales as those with “the best opportunities for growth” and that, whilst valuable assets, its regional businesses in the Midlands and London and the South East, did not offer the same opportunities for the group and were likely to be more attractive to other owners.
It has appointed Rothschild to advise it on the various disposal processes, and these are expected to be completed during the second and third quarters of 2007, “subject to it receiving full and attractive offers for each of the businesses to be sold”.
Group chief executive Sly Bailey said: “It has taken a great deal of hard work by everyone involved but I am very pleased we can now present a strategic plan for Trinity Mirror that, once delivered, will make us one of the most efficient and modern media groups in Europe.
“The proposed disposals will enable us to concentrate on the heart of the group and adopt a new, technology-led operating model that will ensure we serve our advertisers and readers better from a significantly lower cost base.”
Trinity Mirror has said it also plans to sell its sports division, which includes the Racing Post, and adopt a new “technology led operating model across group to accelerate growth and reduce costs”.
It said the review had taken into account the current advertising market conditions impacting its nationals and regionals businesses, the synergies existing between different parts of the group and the opportunities available through the development of its digital activities.
It had examined a full range of alternative structures for the group including the separation of the regionals and nationals businesses by way of full demerger, but the Board had concluded that this would adversely impact shareholder value.
In its report, the group said: “The Board is confident that in the medium-term, the streamlined Regionals division will have the capacity to generate margins amongst those of the best-in-class operators in the UK regional newspaper publishing sector.”
Group advertising revenues for the 11 months to November fell by 9.6 per cent.
Advertising revenues for the regionals division, excluding acquisitions, fell by 8.6 per cent year-on-year for the five months to November. For the 11 months to November advertising revenues fell by 9.2 per cent.
Circulation revenue for the regional newspapers grew by 1.1 per cent for the five months to November.