Trinity Mirror’s decision to put only a part of its regional papers empire on the market confirms the feeling that newspapers are not attractive to investors. The board review published today says it will sell the Racing Post and regional titles in the Midlands, London and the South East, subject to “full and attractive offers”.
The review says several expressions of interest in buying parts of the business had been considered. These included an expression of interest in the national papers — the Daily and Sunday Mirrors and the People — which the board felt “substantially undervalued” them. Demerger of the national and regional businesses was also ruled out.
In March, the Daily Mail and General Trust announced that it would not continue with attempts to sell its Northcliffe regional business because “the three offers received did not reflect the long term value of the business”. Only the Aberdeen Journals business was sold.
Northcliffe announced a cost-cutting programme. Today, Trinity Mirror announces cost-cutting.
It says the weekly papers in London and the South East and the Midland papers including the Birmingham Post and Evening Mail and the Coventry Telegraph were “likely to be more attractive to other owners”.
And their vision for the future of the retained business is as “a multi-platform publishing and advertising business based on a combination of market leading newspaper titles and digital assets offering best-in-class margin potential and significant growth potential once advertising market conditions improve.”
But the separately released trading update expects advertising revenue, down 9.6% in the past 11 months, stabilise next year with the rate of decline slowing. Two days ago, Johnston Press with print advertising revenue down by 8% in the past five months, saw no sign of improvement.
Later addition While my post reflects a feeling that the board review is too little, too late, Roy Greenslade says it all questioning whether the plans will “stave off complete collapse”.