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Trinity Mirror in talks to buy stake in Daily Express

By Ravender Sembhy

The publisher of the Daily Mirror newspaper has confirmed talks are under way to acquire a minority stake in Daily Express publisher Northern & Shell.

Trinity Mirror said that discussions were at an "early stage" with the group, which is owned by Richard Desmond.

"The board of Trinity Mirror plc notes the recent media speculation and confirms that it is at an early stage of discussions towards taking a minority interest in a new company comprising certain of Northern & Shell's assets," Trinity explained in a statement.

"No offer has been made and there is no certainty that any agreement will be reached."

It is the second time in under two years that Trinity has opened talks with Northern & Shell, which owns the Daily Express and Daily Star titles.

However, it has also been reported that any deal to acquire Mr Desmond's titles could include former News of the World editor David Montgomery.

According to Sky News, he is plotting to create a new venture with private equity players that would house the titles, in which Trinity would be a minority stakeholder.

Mr Desmond acquired the titles in 2000 for £125m.

A tie-up between the left-leaning Mirror and the Brexit-backing Express would raise eyebrows, but could make commercial sense.

The print media industry is grappling with a decline in advertising and any combination could herald cost savings and a shared cut of a larger advertising pool.

It is the latest major print industry transaction to emerge in the last week.

Ascential - which was once media and publishing giant Emap - said it will hive off 13 trade magazine brands into a separate division, but added "on-going discussions" meant a sale was "highly probable".

The group will be left with just one publishing title - Retail Week - after the move as it looks to focus on its events business and major growth brands.

The so-called 'heritage brands' being put on the sale block also include Local Government Chronicle, Construction News, Retail Jeweller and Architects' Journal.

It marks the latest shift away from media publishing for the firm, which first began as a regional newspaper group before going on to own a host of consumer and business magazines.

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