Richard Desmond is reportedly on the cusp of offloading OK! Magazine as well as the Express and Star newspapers after an apparent breakthrough in pension liabilities opened the door to a £125m sale to Trinity Mirror.
Any sale would mark the end of an era for Desmond who has been involved in the publishing industry for 43 years together with the end of a tortuous sales process which has dragged on since early last year following the collapse of an earlier sale three years ago.
Trinity Mirror was spurred into action this time around amidst concerns that a failure to capitalise on the economies of scale that a tie-up with Express Newspapers could bring risked exacerbating planned job cuts as it grapples with a £406m pension deficit.
That has seen Trinity Mirror increase its pension fund payments from £36 to £44m annually. For its part Express Newspapers had a £19m pension deficit in 2019, with Desmond paying £11m per annum through to 2020.
Desmond won’t be exiting the publishing world entirely however as upon conclusion of the deal he will become one of the largest individual shareholders in Trinity Mirror.
Express Newspapers posted a slump in pre-tax profits to £13m last year, a reduction of over half from the year before.