Trinity Mirror says it is closing in on the purchase of Express Newspapers publisher Northern and Shell from Richard Desmond.
“The group continues to make progress on discussions to acquire 100% of the publishing assets of Northern and Shell,” Trinity Mirror said in a statement.
In a trading update, the publisher said group revenue had fallen 8% year-on-year on a like-for-like basis. This was a slight improvement on the 9% decline in the first half of the year.
The company, which is the UK’s largest regional newspaper publisher and owns titles including the Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo, said it remains on course to cut £20m of costs over the course of the year. Net debt fell by £3m to £19m for the period.
Trinity Mirror said: “We are experiencing improving trends in nationally sourced print advertising revenues, though local advertising, particularly classified remain challenging and volatile.”
Across the board print revenue fell 10%, while the smaller digital segment grew by 4%. Print advertising was down 16% and circulation revenue fell 7%.
In July, the company announced it had increased its cost-cutting target from £15m to £20m following a 21% drop in revenue during the previous six months.