Sue Douglas, the former Sunday Express editor, is reportedly in talks with Trinity Mirror, publishers of Sunday People, to buy a majority stake of the publication for £10 million in partnership with ex-ITV executive Rupert Howell.
A consortium, fronted by Douglas, also revealed that if her firm, Phoenix Ventures, is successful the title may be rebranded to become News of the People. A hybrid of Sunday People and News of the World, it would reportedly use the same masthead as the now defunct News of the World, and also the same fonts.
In addition, Douglas has officially registered the web domain for www.newsofthepeople.co.uk and is understood to have approached a number of former News of the World staff about potentially being involved in the venture, as well as those from other titles.
It is thought that the business plan includes pricing the title at £1 and seeking a weekly sale of 1 million from launch.
A Trinity Mirror spokesman told the Guardian: "Trinity Mirror plc can confirm it is in very preliminary discussions regarding a joint venture for publishing the Sunday People. There is nothing further to report at this stage. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate,"
Simon Fox,chief executive Trinity Mirror, said in an email to staff: "I can confirm that we have been approached by an external group who have expressed an interest in working with us to invest in and develop the Sunday People.
“These discussions are at a very preliminary stage and may or may not come to fruition. Any decision about whether or not to progress will be taken once we have carefully considered the impact on our colleagues, readers and investors."
Fox added that the news of the potential deal will naturally be "very unsettling" for the staff at the Sunday People, "and I would reiterate to them that no decisions have been taken and we will keep the team fully informed should this move forward".
Phoenix Ventures, the parent of Phoenix Newspapers Limited, is understood to be looking for a deal to take a majority stake in a Sunday newspaper, however it has declined to comment on the reports.