In January, the publisher said it was discussing a partial merger with Northern & Shell which would see it take a minority stake in a new company, with back office functions shared between the two.
However TM has today confirmed that those discussions have ceased and that it is now proposing a wholesale takeover in a deal reportedly worth around £130m.
Already Britain’s biggest regional publisher with more than 100 daily and weekly titles, the purchase of the two Desmond-owned papers would represent a dramatic expansion of TM’s national portfolio.
The latest announcement came in a statement released at 7am this morning headed ‘Update on discussions with Northern & Shell.’
It read: “Further to the announcement made on 10 January 2017 the Board of Trinity Mirror plc (“Trinity Mirror”) notes that it is now in discussions to acquire 100pc of the publishing assets of Northern & Shell and that it has ceased discussions to acquire a minority stake in a new company comprising the publishing assets of Northern & Shell.
“There is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed or completed. Any acquisition would require the approval of Trinity Mirror shareholders.
“A further announcement will be made when appropriate.”
As well as the Express and Star and their Sunday stablemates, Northern & Shell also publishes celebrity news magazine OK.
The previous talks are thought to have focused on creating a combined sales operation for the Express and Mirror titles as well as merging some back office functions, with ‘National World’ slated as a possible name for the new company.