Regional publisher Newsquest has bought one of the UK’s biggest remaining independent newspaper groups, adding one daily and a number of weeklies to its portfolio.
Newsquest has today announced the purchase of NWN Media, which publishes papers across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.
The NWN board unanimously accepted an offer from Newsquest for the company, although the purchase price has not been revealed.
It is the second significant expansion in Newsquest’s portfolio this year following the takeover of the independent Isle of Wight County Press in July.
NWN is based in Mold, near Wrexham, and currently employs around 300 people across North Wales and Cheshire.
Its titles include Wrexham and Flintshire daily The Leader, as well as weekly papers including the Chester Standard, South Wirral Standard, Oswestry & Border Counties Advertizer, Rhyl Journal, Powys County Times, Denbighshire Free Press, Whitchurch Herald, North Wales Pioneer and North Wales Chronicle.
NWN was nearly sold to veteran newspaper entrepreneur Sir Ray Tindle in 2013, but the company’s board was split over the proposed deal and the issue eventually had to be settled in the High Court.
As well as newspaper publishing, NWN also operates an extensive contract printing operation.
Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker, pictured above left, said: “NWN Media comprises a stable of really strong local media brands that command great trust and unrivalled audiences in their communities. We’re looking forward to working with the NWN staff as they continue to transition their business to a successful and more sustainable future.
“We aim to facilitate a structure whereby they can benefit from the resources that Newsquest can provide whilst enabling them to carry on doing what they do best – namely providing first class local content, and advertising solutions for the readers and businesses in their region.”
David Faulkner, managing director of NWN Media said: “This is good news indeed and I strongly believe it is the best way forward for our group of titles. Our brands continue to command significant loyalty in our market places and the added resource scale and investment potential that Newsquest will bring will be invaluable to our continuing profitability.
“Our company has always been proud to be locally owned but I believe that this is an important step into the future at a time when the media landscape demands creativity and innovation more than ever to ensure success.”
Barrie Jones, NWN executive editorial director, added: “I think this is excellent news for the company and I look forward to working with Newsquest in continuing to publish some great papers in our regions while at the same time grasping new opportunities of moving our business forward.”
NWN was previously owned by the Thomas family but when its former owner Eric Thomas died his shares were divided between his three daughters – Nonna Woodward, Susan Bourne and Erica Moss.
Ms Woodward, who was then the deputy chairman of the company, and chairman Russell Whitehair were keen for the deal with Sir Ray to go through – but the Bourne and Moss families objected.
Eventually the issue went to the High Court where Mr Justice Henderson ruled that the proposed sale of the shares could not go ahead. Ms Woodward and Mr Whitehair subsequently left the board.