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Trinity Mirror to retain Midlands and remaining South East titles

Trinity Mirror is to keep its Midlands regional newspaper titles, and its remaining titles in the South East, after failing to attract high enough bids, the company announced today.

The group is to sell its sports division, which includes the Racing Post, for £170m to FL Partners.

Trinity Mirror announced in December that it planned to sell many of its regional titles, including the Birmingham Post and Mail, Coventry Telegraph, South London Press, Croydon Advertiser and Surrey Mirror.

Following a wide-ranging review of the company, it earmarked its newspapers in the Midlands, London and the South East for sale.

At the start of the process, the company thought these assets would be worth more to other parties than to Trinity Mirror.

It wanted 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.

The overall disposal programme will raise a total of £263m, with the surplus capital going to shareholders.

Northcliffe Media bought 26 weekly newspapers from Trinity Mirror Southern for £64.15m in July.

Tindle Newspapers bought the South London Press, North London and Herts Newspapers and the Yellow Advertiser from Trinity Mirror, a total of 27 titles in a deal worth £18.75m.

The 14 titles of Trinity’s Berkshire Regional Newspapers were sold for £10m to Berkshire Media Group Ltd, a subsidiary of The Dunfermline Press.

The businesses being retained will focus on developing the portfolio both in print and digital to support the group’s strategy of building a multi-platform media business.

A company statement said: “At the start of this process, the board considered that these assets would be worth more to other parties than to Trinity Mirror.

“However, ultimately it became clear that offers received for some of the group’s assets did not reflect the board’s assessment of their true value, their earnings potential or the strong positions they hold in their particular markets.

“The board has therefore decided to retain its business in the Midlands and the two remaining businesses in the South East. The board is clear that this decision will deliver greater value to shareholders than a sale in current market conditions.”

Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey said: “Throughout this process we made it clear that we were not prepared to sell our high quality media assets at any price.

“It is clear to us that offers for the businesses we are retaining in the Midlands and the South East did not reflect their true value.

“Conditions in the debt markets have inevitably impacted on the positions of potential bidders.”

  • Trinity Mirror’s remaining South East businesses are West London & Bucks Newspapers, which publishes titles such as the Buckinghamshire Advertiser, Uxbridge Gazette and Harrow Observer, and North Surrey & London, which includes the Surrey Herald & Staines News.
  • Northcliffe Newspapers was put up for sale in 2005 but despite having three firm offers received, the company felt that offers were low because of current market conditions, and did not fully reflect the long term value of the business. The sale was called off in February last year. Do you have a story about the regional press?
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