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National World reveals potential takeover bid for Reach plc

David MontgomeryNational World has announced it is exploring an audacious bid to take over fellow regional news publisher Reach plc.

The group has confirmed this afternoon it is looking at “a possible offer” for Reach and now has until the start of December to make a firm bid for the group.

National World, which was founded as an investment vehicle in 2020 before taking over the old JPIMedia group,  says it has not yet approached the board of directors of Reach regarding any potential deal.

National World is valued at around £50m while Reach has a market value around six times that amount.

In a statement, National World said: “The board of National World plc notes the recent press speculation regarding a potential transaction involving Reach plc.

“National World confirms that it is at the early stages of exploring a possible offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Reach.

“National World has not yet approached the board of directors of Reach with regard to the possible offer.”

The announcement went on to note an offer period has now commenced in accordance with the rules of the Takeover Code.

It added: “In accordance with Rule 2.6(a) of the Takeover Code, National World must, by not later than 5pm London time on 1 December 2022, either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Reach in accordance with Rule 2.7 of the Takeover Code or announce that it does not intend to make an offer for Reach, in which case the announcement will be treated as a statement to which Rule 2.8 of the Takeover Code applies.

“This deadline will be extended only with the consent of Reach and the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers in accordance with Rule 2.6(c) of the Takeover Code.

“This is an announcement falling under Rule 2.4 of the Code and National World would like to emphasise that this announcement does not amount to a firm offer under Rule 2.7 of the Code and there can be no certainty that any offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made.

“A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

Reach later issued a statement saying: “The board of Reach notes the announcement by National World that it is considering a possible offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of the company. The board of Reach confirms that it has not received an approach from National World.

“The board will issue a further statement if and when appropriate. In the meantime, Reach shareholders are strongly advised to take no action.”

National World executive chairman David Montgomery, pictured, has repeatedly stated the group’s intention to pursue acquisitions since the company’s takeover of JPIMedia at the start of last year.

Mr Montgomery previously spearheaded the purchase of Northcliffe Media by Local World, a consortium of regional newspaper publishers and investors, before the company was sold to Reach forerunner Trinity Mirror in 2015.

In recent months, National World has shifted its focus to bigger cities already served by Reach after launching rival online titles under its ‘World’ brand in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle.

A restructure announced in June saw the group redeploy some journalists to bigger cities, with roles being made redundant in other areas.

Reach has also launched a series of online-only titles under its ‘Live’ brand covering areas in which National World previously operated established print titles, including Edinburgh, Hampshire, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Sunderland and Yorkshire.

As a result there is now considerable digital overlap between the two groups in many of the UK’s larger urban centres.

In terms of print overlap, National World dailies the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post both cover Huddersfield, which is served by Reach’s Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

In the North-East of England, Reach runs Newcastle-based dailies The Chronicle and The Journal, while National World newspapers in the region include the Hartlepool Mail, Shields Gazette and Sunderland Echo.

Reach’s Manchester Evening News and National World’s Wigan Post both serve the town of Wigan, while in the East Midlands, National World owns a number of weekly titles in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire – counties served by Reach dailies the Derby Telegraph, Leicester Mercury and Nottingham Post.

And in Scotland, both companies publish national dailies in the form of Reach’s Daily Record and National World’s The Scotsman, with the two also running a number of weekly papers across the country’s Central Belt.