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Tory peer Ashcroft ‘could back newspaper merger’

Former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Ashcroft was today named among potential backers for the new David Montgomery-led regional newspaper consortium.

As reported on Monday, the former Mirror Group boss is seeking to combine regional publishers Northcliffe Media and Iliffe News and Media in a new company called Local World.

Potential financial backers include Trinity Mirror, which has confirmed it is in talks over taking a minority shareholding in the business, and hedge fund tycoon Crispin Oddey.

Today Sky News named multi-millionaire Tory peer Lord Ashcroft among other would-be investors although it said that the deal may yet go ahead without him.

Sky’s city editor Mark Kleinman said he had learned that the peer, who is based in the central American tax haven of Belize, was in discussion about injecting cash into Local World,

He reported that Lord Ashcroft “would be likely to invest a modest sum” in the new venture, but that the terms of the investment were not yet finalised.

Lord Ashcroft’s current business interests include a stake in Dods, the political intelligence firm, and BCB Holdings, which owns a Belize-based financial services company.

Both Northcliffe parent company DMGT and Iliffe’s owner Yattendon plc have confirmed they are in talks over the future of the two publishers.