When news broke last week that Express Newspapers and its titles the Daily Express, the Daily Star and their Sunday editions were back up for sale, the sense I had was that the other shoe had finally dropped. The only linked buyer, Trinity Mirror, had been in talks with Richard Desmond’s media empire-ette about the acquisition three years ago, only for the discussions to collapse over a dispute about pensions.
Although a Trinity Mirror spokesman hedged about the exact date the £127m takeover bid would go through, saying “there’s still some way to go. This is not yet a done deal”, the reality is that those titles, plus celebrity title OK! magazine, will almost certainly be helping to prop up Trinity Mirror’s business very shortly (Friday if you believe the reports). There’s too much synergy between the two companies’ strengths and their needs for it to be otherwise.
Trinity Mirror (which happens to also be in the news this week for another, less savoury reason) still needs to make savings. At the same time it is very keen to expand its portfolio and create a genuine national-to-local appeal to advertisers, as can be seen by its acquisition of regional newspaper group Local World. And just as with Local World, a big part of the appeal of the Northern & Shell assets is that it can conduct significant backroom synergy while retaining the coverage and scale.