Profits have dropped at Richard Desmond’s Express and Daily Star newspapers ahead of their potential sale to Trinity Mirror.
Express Newspapers’ accounts show a pre-tax profit of £13m, down by more than half on the prior year, according to the Telegraph.
Turnover was down by 10% to £157m after the two tabloids cut their cover price to put pressure on rivals, including the Trinity titles which may soon become stablemates.
A prospective deal between Desmond and the Daily Mirror publisher has been on the cards since 2015, but on-off talks failed to make sufficient progress.
That was until last month, when Trinity Mirror confirmed it had entered into negotiations to acquire all of Desmond’s Northern & Shell publishing assets, including the Daily and Sunday Express, the Daily and Sunday Star and celebrity magazines OK, New and Star for a fee set at around £135m.
As The Drum media columnist Paul Connew wrote at the time: “The stumbling blocks behind the several delays centre on Richard Desmond’s famed determination to drive a hard bargain. Trinity was originally trying to buy Desmond’s publishing assets for less than £100m. But the agreed price of £130m-£135m will leave the Express owner with a gigantic smile on his face.”
Confirmation of a deal, which hinges on shareholder approval and no intervention from the Competition and Markets Authority, is still pending.