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Northcliffe query over London weeklies

Northcliffe Newspapers could be about to table a rival bid for 27 weekly papers around London.

The company has asked for Government advice on whether it could buy the titles from Independent News & Media.

They are the newspapers that Newsquest has already agreed a deal for – only to be told by the Competition Commission that their proposed purchase of eight of the titles might operate against the public interest.

After Newsquest regrouped, the sellers also said they would look at the best way forward because there were several bidders for the titles whose sale was blocked.

That could include negotiations with Northcliffe, which has made a “precautionary” application covering all 27 titles to prepare for any future bid.

The original deal with Newsquest was made in March and sent to the Commission in May. It is possible that Independent News & media may want to dispose of all titles to one buyer rather than split the portfolio.

The Department of Trade and Industry has asked third parties to comment on the Northcliffe proposal before making a decision.

When it makes a decision, the DTI will again have to look at competition, concentration of ownership, efficiency and employment issues.

It will also look at whether news presentation and freedom of expression would be affected – and if a sale might operate against the public interest.

The newspapers involved are:

The Barking & Dagenham Post Series, which comprises three editions:
Barking & Dagenham Post
Ilford & Redbridge Post
Thurrock & Lakeside Post
Barking & Dagenham Post Weekender
Bexley & Eltham Express
Bexleyheath Times Series, which comprises four editions:
Bexleyheath & Welling Times
Eltham & Greenwich Times
Erith & Crayford Times
Sidcup & Blackfen Times
Bromley & Beckenham Express Series, which comprises two
Bromley & Beckenham Express
Orpington & Chislehurst Express
Bromley Times, which comprises three editions:
Bromley & Beckenham Times
Orpington Times
Chislehurst Times
Dartford & Swanley Express
Dartford Times, which comprises two editions:
Dartford Times
Swanley Times
East London Advertiser
Gravesend & District Express
Gravesend Reporter
Hackney Gazette
Hammersmith Times
Hornsey Journal Series, which comprises three editions:
Hornsey & Crouch End Journal
Tottenham, Wood Green & Edmonton Journal
Muswell Hill Journal
Hoxton & Shoreditch Express
Ilford and Redbridge Weekly Post, which comprise two editions:
Ilford & Redbridge Weekly Post
Woodford Weekly Post
Islington Gazette Series, which comprises three editions:
Islington Gazette
Islington Gazette EC1
Camden Chronicle
Job Watch
Kensington Times
North London Weekly Herald Series, which comprises two editions:
Islington Herald
Haringey Herald
Paddington Times
Romford & Havering Weekly Post
Stoke Newington & Stamford Hill Express
Stratford & Newham Express, which comprises two editions:
Stratford & Newham Express
Docklands Express
Wembley Chronicle Series, which comprises two editions:
Wembley & Kingsbury Chronicle
Harrow & Sudbury Chronicle
Westminster Times
Willesden Chronicle Series, which comprises three editions:
Willesden & Brent Chronicle
Kilburn Times
Camden Times.

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