By Geoff Percival
Independent News and Media (INM) has said it is “business as usual” for the Irish operations of the Daily Star newspaper, despite the latter and other Richard Desmond-owned titles set to be acquired by the Trinity Mirror group.
The owner of the Daily Mirror has agreed to buy — for £127m (€143m) — the Daily Star, Daily Express and OK! Magazine from Mr Desmond’s Northern & Shell group, depending on shareholder and regulatory approval.
The Irish edition of the Daily Star is a 50%-50% joint venture between Northern & Shell and INM.
Mr Desmond will get an 8.6% stake in Trinity and £107m in cash under the terms of the deal. Trinity Mirror’s share price jumped by as much as 21% on the news, which was accompanied by an upbeat trading statement showing that the company had paid down debt and was on track to beat forecasts.
Trinity Mirror said it planned to save £20m in annual costs by 2020 by cutting back-office jobs and sharing editorial teams in sport and features.
The UK arm of the Unite trade union is seeking “urgent talks” with Trinity Mirror and assurances on job security.
“We have real concerns that the merger
of these two newspaper groups
could have an adverse impact on the jobs of workers and we will be asking for urgent meetings with the new management for assurances on job security. There are big question marks over the future,” said Unite’s UK national officer Louisa Bull.
The takeover by Britain’s largest news publisher unites tabloids from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but Trinity said each title would retain editorial control. “The Mirror is not going to go right wing, the Express is not going to go left,” said Trinity Mirror boss Simon Fox.