Northcliffe Media is set to sell a series of weekly titles in Kent to rival publisher the KM Group, it was announced today.
The deal, which will be subject to an investigation by competition watchdogs, will see the family-owned KM Group take over the Kent Regional News and Media series.
The KM Group is to make a formal submission to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) this week informing them of their desire to acquire the titles. The proposed deal will then be subject to a 40 working-day investigative process by the OFT.
In a statement, the KM Group said the news had been announced to staff in both organisations at lunchtime today.
An internal announcement made to Northcliffe staff stated: “This week, the Kent Messenger Group intends to make a formal submission to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) informing them of their desire to acquire the seven newspaper titles published by Kent Regional News and Media.
“This proposed acquisition will now be subject to a 40 working-day investigative process by the OFT. During this time the KM will be working to finalise plans to ensure they are able to integrate KRNM titles with their existing portfolio as quickly as possible.
“The Kent Messenger expect the great local brands, knowledge and talent that will join the Group as a result of this acquisition will help them to improve their service and consequently make their business more sustainable.
“Northcliffe Media acquired Kent Regional News and Media in July 2007 and under its ownership the business has undergone significant change.”
Kent Regional News and Media was among three groups of weeklies purchased by Northcliffe from Trinity Mirror in July 2007 for a total of £64.15m.
As well as its flagship Kent Messenger and its sister Messenger titles in Dartford, Gravesend and Medway, the KM Group stable also includes the Herne Bay Gazette, Whitstable Gazette, Faversham News, Kentish Express, Kentish Gazette and Sheerness Times Guardian.