Trinity Mirror is reportedly close to striking a deal to acquire Richard Desmond’s Daily Express after being blocked from taking over the Local World regional publishing group.
The parent publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, has reportedly been in negotiation with Desmond’s Northern & Shell since March with a view to expanding its portfolio, according to the guardian.
Express Newspapers, parent of the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, turned over a pre-tax profit of £16.7m in 2013 which gives the suite of titles a combined value of up to £80m.
Tortuous negotiations have dragged on for months however as Desmond reportedly holds out for a high price of as much as £100m for the asset, whilst Trinity balk at Express Newspapers’ £85m pension deficit.
Trinity is keen to do a deal however in order to boost its bottom line, after being forced to double up on its cost saving plan following a 19 per cent fall in print advertising over the first half.
The Daily Express wasn’t Trinity’s first choice however as the paper had hoped to take a controlling stake in David Montgomery’s Local World by adding to its existing 19.98 per cent holding – only to be blocked by Lord Iliffe who controls a 21.3 per cent stake through the Yattendon Group.
According to the guardian’s sources there is a ‘good chance’ that a deal can be struck with Desmond by the end of the year.