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Manchester Evening News sold to Trinity Mirror

The Guardian Media Group has today agreed to sell its regional arm GMG Regional Media to Trinity Mirror for £44.8m.

The deal, announced this morning, will make Trinity the dominant media player in the North-West of England and ends the century-old link between The Guardian and the regional press from which it sprang.

The sale includes both GMG Regional Media’s subsidiaries, MEN Media which publishes the Manchester Evening News and 21 weekly titles in the North-West, and Surrey and Berkshire Media, which publishes ten titles in the South-East including the Reading Post.

But Channel M, the troubled TV station for Greater Manchester, and the company’s local newspapers in Woking are excluded from the sale.

Mark Dodson, chief executive of GMG Regional Media, is leaving the company, as is Ruth Spratt, chief executive of MEN Media.

David Sharrock, currently chief operating officer of GMG Regional Media, has been appointed as managing director of MEN Media in place of Ms Spratt. It is unclear whether Mr Dodson will be replaced.

Meanwhile S&B Media, which also includes the Surrey Advertiser, will be managed as part of Trinity’s existing publishing business in the South of England, Trinity Mirror Southern.

The deal is already being seen by some analysts as a vote of confidence in the regional press at a time when the industry’s long-term future has been called into question.

Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey said: “GMG Regional Media is a perfect strategic fit for our group.

“This acquisition, which includes the Manchester Evening News with its proud and rich journalistic heritage, together with the weekly titles and associated websites extends our reach across print and online and is a further step towards our strategic goal of creating a multi-media business of real scale.”

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, said: “The Manchester Evening News and its sister titles have made a huge contribution to the fortunes of the Group for the best part of a century.

“GMG would like to pay tribute to all the staff for their hard work and achievement in a sector dealing with structural change as well as economic downturn.”

GMG’s decision to sell its regional arm reflects the mandate placed on the company by its ultimate owners, the Scott Trust, to secure the future of The Guardian in perpetuity.

Ms McCall said: “We have a strong portfolio which has to be in the right shape to achieve that goal. The Group board and the Scott Trust have made the decision to sell in light of these strategic objectives.

“GMG Regional Media is a good business and a publisher of important newspapers. However, we believe Trinity Mirror, as one of the UK’s biggest regional publishers, is best placed to develop this business in a market that is likely to consolidate further.

“We are therefore confident that this decision is in the best long-term interests of the regional business and its staff, as well as delivering real value for the group.”

Today’s deal, which is due to be completed on 28 March, is made up of £7.4m in cash and £37.4m in the value of a printing contract from which Trinity Mirror has agreed to release GMG.

It represents the first concrete example of the regional press industry consolidation which has been widely predicted ever since the start of the recession.

With Trinity Mirror already owning the two daily titles in Liverpool, it was always the likeliest purchaser should the MEN come onto the market and the deal will make the company the dominant media player across North-Wales, Liverpool, Manchester and Cheshire.

The exclusion of Channel M, the Woking News and Mail and the Woking Review from the deal is prompting speculation that GMG will either close them or seek another buyer. Trinity declined to purchase the two Woking titles as it already owns the Woking Informer.


Rob (09/02/2010 10:38:52)
That should just about cover a year of losses at the Guardian and Observer, then.

Mr_Osato (09/02/2010 10:45:43)
Well getting rid of Dodson and Spratt is a step in the right direction, wonder what they’ll do with Channel M?
Price seems high for a so-called ‘dying industry’- also wonder if any attempt was made to find a local buyer who actually cared about the titles?

Onlooking (09/02/2010 10:48:16)
MEN staff/editors: words to get used to… 1/ benchmark staffing levels; 2/ ‘good enough’ editorial content; 3/ change management training; 4/ fifo (famous Trinity Mirror acronym from a conference in 2001… fit in or f*!£ o*!’

Good old days (09/02/2010 10:51:27)
For those who thought Dodson was a ruthless hatchet man, you ain’t seen nothing yet…

TM employee (09/02/2010 11:00:31)
MEN’s a good paper – sad to see it being taken over by a company which hasn’t exactly got a great record of investing in its papers…

Paul (09/02/2010 12:20:29)
It’s worth noting that the company the £37.4m printing contract was with is… Trinity Mirror! They own the Chadderton plant.
So it’s just a £7.4m deal, really.

the red postman (09/02/2010 12:22:42)
Coming soon to the north-west – a news factory halfway along the M62 for the editorial staff of the MEN and Liverpool to share?

Bluestringer (09/02/2010 12:51:31)
Bet Tory shadow media secretary Jeremey Hunt is rubbing his hands in glee – his fiendish plan to create massive media monopoly zones throughout the UK has started already, and he ain’t even been elected yet. Mwhahahahaha

Chaka Khan (09/02/2010 13:22:17)
And their first move is to take MEN staff out of Manchester.
And before anyone says Oldham is still Manchester, remember (Trinity Mirror) Liverpool Echo editor’s words when they moved printing from Liverpool to Oldham last year. “Everyone knows Oldham isn’t Manchester.”

Charlie (09/02/2010 13:55:11)
The Guardian bought all papers in Manchester, then a magazine run by a collective; they bled them dry and ran them into the ground – ultimately producing the same copy in each title. Now they sell it on just to keep the Guardian and Observer afloat. What a business plan! Working at the MEN was bad enough a few years ago – now it will be hell because Sly Bailey is much more ruthless thatn Mark Dodson. Run for the hills!

Ex-TM sub (09/02/2010 14:42:02)
God help them….If they think they’ve been squeezed in the past, wait til TM get their mitts on them, then they will understand that it is possible to get blood out of a stone.XOVDU

Subb yerr own werk (09/02/2010 15:01:52)
I bet staff at the MEN feel like turkeys that have just caught sight of Bernard Matthews grinning at them…

Dan Depan (09/02/2010 15:09:53)
Out of the frying pan etc … still be interesting to see how the Guardian fares without its teet to suckle – then again I really don’t care!!

Bob (10/02/2010 09:30:51)
It’s pathetic seeing people swarm to a story like this to make dire predictions about the future of the MEN. None of you have any facts about the situation, and few of you actually know how the MEN works. What’s to say they won’t look at the MEN and decide it’s as well run as can be? There are a lot of people worried about their futures at the moment, and people posting comments predicting that the end is nigh is unfair. News factories midway down the M62? Where did you get that one from Red Postman? Based on what evidence? Onlooking, the four points you attribute to Trinity Mirror can be found in any company, regardless of industry.

realword (10/02/2010 11:05:21)
Get real Bob. I hope you are not a management brown-nose.
I know its getting near Valentines Day but the rose coloured specs seem a deeper
shade than ever.
Seen any POSITIVE changes in the newspaper industry lately?
We’d all love to hear about them.

Bob (10/02/2010 12:49:12)
chuck insults if you want realword, but all I’m saying is that people seem to enjoy coming on here and predicting bad things for other journalists. There hasn’t been much good news in the last couple of years, but that doesn’t mean as journalists we should try to out doom each other.

Hengist Pod (11/02/2010 13:13:45)
Bob, if you worked for Trinity Mirror, believe you me you’d know where people are coming from. The clue is in the name – ‘Sly!”