Mediahuis Group has taken a 35% stake in an American consultancy firm.
The company, owner of Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life publisher Independent News & Media, acquired the stake in Mather Economics, which specialises in news industry subscription business models and digital products. The move is seen as a further step in the group's preparation for a transition to a paywall subscription model for its main titles.
It also owns Dublin-based titles the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent and the Sunday World.
Atlanta-based Mather Economics, set up in 2002 by economist Matt Lindsey, has existing relationships with Mediahuis, Schibsted in Norway, Bonnier in Sweden and Le Monde in France. The consultancy assists publishers in "building and maintaining paying relationships with subscribers and advertisers".
Mediahuis Group chief executive Gert Ysebaert said: "As a publisher, Mediahuis wants to be at the forefront of developing direct and sustainable relationships with its subscribers.
"Our investment in Mather is therefore of strategic importance for Mediahuis as a publisher and at the same time means a significant expansion of our portfolio within the fast-growing market of media technology and services.
"The collection and use of customer data to optimise the customer journey, the subscription flow and the pricing strategy will continue to increase in importance."