Trinity Mirror Group has agreed to buy the publishing assets of Northern & Shell Group for £126.7m. The deal includes titles like The Daily Express, The Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday. The purchase also includes a 50% stake in Independent Star, the Irish joint-venture company owned by Independent News & Media (INM) and Northern & Shell which publishes the Irish Daily Star.
The most recent set of accounts for Independent Star – which cover the 12 months to the end of December 2016- show that it reported a turnover of €18.86m while it turned in an operating profit of €2.01m. The Irish Daily Star is printed by INM and the accounts show that the company paid its 50% shareholder €5.5m for print-related services during the year. By comparison, Northern & Shell was paid €400,000 for content-related services.
Trinity Mirror publishes a range of different print and digital titles in the Irish market including the Irish Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, RSVP magazine, BelfastLive.co.uk and DublinLive.ie. However it remains to be seen what synergies, if any, can be extracted by the group from the Irish joint venture company which is run from INM’s Talbot Street headquarters. The proposed transaction will also need to be cleared by the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission in Ireland and, ultimately, by the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
Trinity Mirror will pay for the deal through an initial cash payment of £47.7m, deferred cash payments of £59m to be paid between 2020 and 2023 and £20m worth of new shares.
According to Simon Fox, Chief Executive, Trinity Mirror: “This deal is a really exciting moment in Trinity Mirror’s history, combining some of the most iconic titles in the UK media industry. It is good for our readers, good for our customers and good for our shareholders. Northern and Shell’s titles have a large and loyal readership, a growing digital presence and a stable revenue mix and offer an excellent fit with Trinity Mirror.”
Richard Desmond, Chairman of Northern & Shell, said: “The Express Newspapers and our celebrity magazine titles have been a key part of the Northern & Shell portfolio for many years, and I am immensely proud of building them into one of the largest newspaper and magazine groups in the UK. Today’s transformational transaction is a logical and natural next step in the evolution and consolidation of the media sector and will create a larger and stronger platform serving all stakeholders. In Trinity Mirror we have a great partner, who will be an excellent steward of the business going forward and I am delighted to be able to retain an ongoing interest in the combined group.”
Apart from the daily and weekly titles published by Northern & Shell, its other assets include three celebrity magazines OK!, New, and Star.