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Job fears rise after Mirror buyout of Express gets nod

By Holly Williams

The takeover of the Express and Star newspapers by the owner of the Daily Mirror has been cleared by the Government, sparking fears over job cuts.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has said he will not be referring the £126.7m takeover by Reach, the publisher formerly known as Trinity Mirror, for a full investigation after reports from regulator Ofcom and the competition watchdog.

The move effectively paves the way for the deal to buy a string of titles from Richard Desmond's media empire, with final approval expected imminently by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

But attention has turned to the impact on workers amid plans for hefty cost-cutting.

Reach warned there will be job losses under aims to slash annual costs by £20m within two years, although it is unclear how many at this stage.

The bulk of the cost-cutting will be made by 2019, it added, signalling a tough six months for staff at the titles.

Mr Hancock had intervened last month on the deal, referring it to Ofcom on the grounds of public interest and triggering a report from the CMA.

Announcing his decision not to refer the deal for a so-called phase two investigation, he said he accepted Ofcom's conclusions that the deal does not raise public concerns over plurality of views in the media and does not raise concerns in relation to free expression of opinion in newspapers.

He also backed the CMA's finding that the acquisition does not lead to a substantial reduction of competition in any market.

Reach chief executive Simon Fox welcomed the decision.

Belfast Telegraph

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