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KM Group in bid to buy Northcliffe weeklies

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.

Titles affected by the proposed acquisition include the Medway News, East Kent Gazette, Herne Bay and Whitstable Times, Isle of Thanet Gazette, Thanet Times, Folkestone Herald and Dover Express.

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.


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  • July 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Following the sale of the Post & Times series by Northcliffe in Staffordshire, I wonder if this is another step towards the company trying to shed its titles?

    I hope it sells all of its weeklies – it might just save them, although at this rate they’ll be competing with the titles that are currently dailies!

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  • July 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    What a pretty kettle of fish this is.

    Even though, as reported elsewhere, KM is back in profit for the first time since 2006, it is clear that they have suffered at the hands of KRN under the control of Northcliffe.

    But to buy up your rivals (your only competition) to close them down, and in the process create absolute market supremacy…well it’s just not cricket, and it’s certainly not decent or honourable, two qualities the KM is always banging on about.

    So shame on KM, and shame on Northcliffe too for agreeing to sell. KRN runs at a profit I am led to believe, but so eager is Northcliffe to get out of the local newspaper sector that they have accepted the first offer that came along.

    KRN staff, who have worked long and hard with little reward or thanks to give the KM a real run for their money, deserve much, much better.

    East Kent with just the KM titles is a very depressing thought.

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