Is Trinity Mirror about to buy the Daily Express?

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

Trinity Mirror, the owner of the Daily Mirror, Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo, is in talks with Richard Desmond with a view to buying the Daily Express.

The Times reported today that negotiations between Trinity and Desmond, who bought the Express and stablemate the Daily Star for £125m in 2000, had reached an "advanced" stage.

And now Trinity has confirmed the talks, releasing a statement to confirm: "The board of Trinity Mirror notes the recent media speculation and confirms that it is at an early stage of evaluating certain of Northern & Shell’s assets.

“There is no certainty that any agreement will be reached in respect of the range of outcomes currently under consideration. A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate.”

Richard DesmondRichard Desmond

Desmond had asked his long-term advisers, Barclays, to sound out buyers for the Express back in December.

He is generally thought to have overseen a period of editorial decline at the newspaper, which has seen print sales slump while bitter rival the Daily Mail has become a global powerhouse. In September 2014 print sales of the Express stood at under 468,000, down 11% year on year.

It has remained profitable, though: Express Newspapers, including the Express and Star titles, made a pre-tax profit of £30.4m in 2013, although revenues fell by over 8%.

The company has kept a notoriously tight grip on staff costs, shedding large numbers of staff and keeping pay frozen since 2008.

It has a significant Northern operation in Broughton, near Preston.