National World plans to buy Reach, owner of Mirror and Express

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The owner of the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post has revealed it is plotting a surprise takeover of much bigger rival Reach, the parent company of Mirror and Express titles and hundreds of regional newspapers including the Manchester Evening News.

National World, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange and run by former Mirror media group boss David Montgomery, said it was in the early stages of a potential offer for Reach.

Montgomery has long coveted a takeover of Reach, to which he sold his former newspaper business Local World in 2015 for £220million. Reach has seen its market value fall by two-thirds to £330m in the past year.

Related: National World eyes bid for struggling UK regional newspaper titles

“National World confirms that it is in the early stages of exploring a potential offer for all of the issued and to be issued share capital of Reach,” said National World, which has a market value of just $50 million. of pounds sterling. “National World has not yet approached Reach’s board of directors regarding the potential offer.”

When Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, acquired the newspaper and magazine assets of Northern & Shell from Richard Desmond for £200million in 2018, Montgomery was left out of talks over a possible joint takeover.

Montgomery created the publicly listed National World a year later as a vehicle to drive consolidation in Britain’s struggling regional newspaper sector.

In 2020 he struck a deal to buy JPI Media, the owner of dozens of major local newspapers including the Edinburgh Evening News, Lancashire Post, Sheffield Star and Sunderland Echo, for just £10million.

Earlier this year, National World failed in a bid to buy Archant, the regional magazine and newspaper publisher which owns titles such as Eastern Daily Press and London’s Ham & High Express. Archant was instead acquired by Newsquest, the UK’s second largest regional publisher.

The potential takeover comes as newspaper publishers grapple with a slowdown in digital advertising, soaring printing costs and calls from staff for better terms as the cost of living crisis unfolds. worsen.

More than 1,000 Reach journalists went on a one-day strike on August 31 over pay. More strike days, as well as a “work to rule” order, were averted when the unions accepted a revised wage offer.

The Independent put more than a fifth of its staff at risk of redundancy on Wednesday as a slump in the digital advertising market and wider deteriorating economic conditions forced the online-only publisher to look to reduce its costs.

A Reach spokesperson said: “Reach’s Board of Directors notes National World’s announcement that it is considering a possible offer for all of the issued and to be issued share capital of the Company. The Reach Board confirms that it has not received an approach from National World.

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