A new deal has seen Trinity Mirror agree to buy GMG Regional Media from the Guardian Media Group for GBP£44.8 million.
The deal, announced this morning, will make Trinity the dominant media player in the north-west of England and ends the century-old link between the Guardian and the regional press from which it sprang.
Trinity Mirror is one of the UK's largest newspaper publishers, with five national newspapers, over 120 regional newspapers and 400 plus digital products. It employs over 6500 people in more than 68 locations in the UK. The move will see Guardian Media Group being able to secure its flagship Guardian daily newspaper, as well as help secure the future of its national titles.
GMG Regional Media publishes 32 newspapers, including the Manchester Evening News and 21 other titles in the north-west of England, plus 10 titles in the south of England, including the Reading Post and the Surrey Advertiser. The transaction, which is due to be completed on 28 March, will not include the Manchester-based local TV station Channel M and two local newspapers in Woking.
Sly Bailey, the chief executive of Trinity Mirror, Britain's biggest regional newspaper publisher, said buying the 32 newspapers and about 44 websites would help build scale in its digital business.
"GMG Regional Media is a perfect strategic fit for our group. This acquisition, which includes the Manchester Evening News with its proud and rich journalistic heritage, together with the weekly titles and associated websites, extends our reach across print and online and is a further step towards our strategic goal of creating a multi-media business of real scale."
For the deal, GMG is receiving GBP£7.4 million, with the remaining GBP£37.4 million in value coming from Trinity Mirror releasing GMG from a long-term contract for printing MEN Media newspapers at its Oldham press.
The deal will give Trinity Mirror control of the MEN Media division, consisting of flagship newspaper the Manchester Evening News and free daily Metro, as well as 20 other papers in the North West of England, Brand Republic reports.
The acquisition will result in a number of executive changes, including the departures of GMG Regional Media chief executive Mark Dodson and MEN Media managing director Ruth Spratt.
GMG has appointed David Sharrock, who is currently the chief operating officer of GMG Regional Media, as managing director of MEN Media.
Carolyn McCall, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, said, "GMG is mandated to secure the future of the Guardian in perpetuity, and we have a strong portfolio which has to be in the right shape to achieve that goal. The group board and the Scott Trust have made the decision to sell in light of these strategic objectives.
"GMG Regional Media is a good business and a publisher of important newspapers. However, we believe Trinity Mirror, as one of the UK's biggest regional publishers, is best placed to develop this business in a market that is likely to consolidate further. We are therefore confident that this decision is in the best long-term interests of the regional business and its staff, as well as delivering real value for the group."
Following the completion of the deal, S&B Media will be managed as part of Trinity Mirror's existing publishing business in the South of England.
Trinity has spent much of the past 18 months reviewing its regional operations, resulting in the closure of a number of papers and radical changes to others.
In October it announced the Birmingham Post would go weekly and its afternoon paper, the Birmingham Mail, would switch to mornings, with 80 job losses as a result.
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