Trinity Mirror board meets amid sell-off speculation

The board of Trinity Mirror, one of the UK's largest newspaper publisher, met today to discuss a review of its business which could lead to the sale of its national or regional newspaper titles.

The board of Trinity Mirror, one of the UK's largest newspaper publisher, met today to discuss a review of its business which could lead to the sale of its national or regional newspaper titles.

The publisher launched a strategic review in August in the light of “increasing challenges” in the industry including falling advertising revenues and newspaper circulation.

The board, led by chief executive Sly Bailey, is understood to have another meeting scheduled next week before announcing the conclusions of the review with its next trading update on December 14.

It is thought that one of the options is to demerge the national newspaper arm, including the Daily Mirror and the People, from the regional arm, which includes 240 titles such as the Liverpool Echo, Newcastle Chronicle and Birmingham Mail.

Trinity Mirror declined to comment today.

The review was conducted by investment bank NM Rothschild which is thought to have drawn up a list of suitors who have expressed interest in Trinity Mirror assets.

Conference and exhibitions operator Marcus Evans is said to have registered his interest in the national titles with Rothschild although he is reportedly only willing to pay about £550m (€816.5m) to £600m (€890.7m), far less than the £800m (€1.2bn) he offered in 2004.

Rothschild is also said to have received offers for individual parts of the group, with the Racing Post seen as a possible target on its own.

However, there is no guarantee that any part of the business will be sold, with analysts wary that the Daily Mail & General Trust abandoned plans to sell its regional newspaper arm Northcliffe earlier this year because offers were lower than expected.

The challenging advertising market saw Trinity Mirror post a 2.2% fall in revenues to £566.6m (€841.2m) in the six months to July 2 while pre-tax profits were down 12.8% to £98.1m (€145.6m).

Shares in the publisher have fallen from 719.5p in March last year to 426.5p in July this year, although the stock has recovered since the review was launched.

Shares were up 2.5p to 510p today.

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