Belfast Telegraph

Taylor buys up four newspapers in Republic

First cross-border buy

By Maurice Neill, Business Correspondent mneill@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

ULSTER Unionist Lord Kilclooney's Alpha Newspaper Group has acquired four weekly titles in the Republic for £10m.

ULSTER Unionist Lord Kilclooney's Alpha Newspaper Group has acquired four weekly titles in the Republic for £10m.

The deal includes the family-owned Tullamore Tribune, Midland Tribune, Longford News and Roscommon Champion.

Lord Kilclooney, John Taylor, registered a company in Dublin, Alpha Publications (Ireland) to make his first major venture into the newspaper market in the South.

The acquisition is subject to the approval of the Competition Authority in the Republic.

Eddie McFeeters, a spokesman for Alpha, said the ethos and character of the four titles will remain as before.

Arnold Fanning, chairman of Midland Tribune, said: "We are delighted that the Midland Tribune is now part of a strong, progressive and independently owned group."

The Midland's family of titles made profits of around £790,000 last year.

Alpha group owns 20 weekly newspapers in Northern Ireland, including the Coleraine Chronicle, Ballymena Guardian and Tyrone Constitution.

In March, the Dungannon-based publisher and the Northern Newspaper Group in Coleraine merged to form a new organisation, Northern Alpha.

The profitable weekly newspaper industry has been undergoing a period of cross-border consolidation, in anticipation of regulatory change.

There are now five major publishers of weekly newspapers in Ireland, including Dublin-based Independent News & Media, which owns the Belfast Telegraph, and the Leinster Leader Group, which owns the Dundalk Democrat.

On Monday British newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror sold its Irish regional newspaper businesses to venture capital group 3i for £46.3m.

The titles include the daily News Letter, and weekly Derry Journal and Donegal Democrat.

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