Newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror today made clear its intention to expand its regional press portfolio saying that greater “scale” would deliver more value for shareholders.
In its annual results statement, the group said the “highly successful” acquisition of GMG Regional Media last February had boosted revenues by £50m.
“The Group believes that scale in regional media can be an important driver of value for shareholders and the acquisition of GMG Regional Media during the year was a compelling demonstration of this,” said the statement.
“The Group will consider further regional consolidation opportunities where there is a strong financial case and a good commercial and strategic fit.”
Today’s comments will further strengthen the widespread view among industry analysts that Trinity Mirror is the likeliest “consolidator” among the so-called “big four” regional press operators.
Last month, DMGT chief executive Martin Morgan ruled out expanding his own group’s regional press portfolio while saying it was “open to worthwhile approaches concerning consolidation.”
Today’s results showed revenues in Trinity’s regional division increased by 9.3pc with operating profits up from £35.9m to £51.7m.
The former GMG Regional Media businesses, which include the Manchester Evening News and associated weeklies, delievered revenues of £50.9m and operating profit of £5.7m.
Said the statement: “The acquisition of GMG Regional Media, completed on 28 March 2010, has proved highly successful
“The acquisition has been fully integrated into our regionals division and extends the group’s reach across print and digital providing further scale in these key geographies.”
As well as buying GMG, the group also took full control of the recruitment, property and motors platform fish4 in October.
It estimates that this acquisition will boost digital recruitment advertising revenues by around £3 million in the first full year of control.
Commenting on the results, Trinity chief executive Sly Bailey said: “Although 2010 proved to be as challenging as expected, we made good progress in rolling out our new operating model, integrating GMG Regional Media and increasing profitability and margin whilst managing extremely volatile revenue trends throughout the year.
“Many of the challenges we faced in 2010 remain in 2011. However, our planned investment initiatives to grow revenues coupled with our focused approach to tightly managing the cost base will help support profits this year whilst positioning the Group for growth when market conditions improve.”