KM Group to buy seven titles from Northcliffe

Kent Messenger Group has made a bid to buy seven newspaper titles from rival publisher Northcliffe Media.

KM Group today announced it was making a formal submission to the Office of Fair Trading to take over Northcliffe's Kent Regional News and Media (KRNM) group.

If it gets approval from the competition watchdog it will acquire the Dover Express, East Kent Gazette, Folkestone Herald, Isle of Thanet Gazette, Medway News, the Thanet Times and the Herne Bay and Whitstable Times.

A statement released by KM Group said: 'The proposed acquisition will now be subject to a 40 working-day investigative process by the OFT. Staff in both organisations were briefed on the proposed acquisition today."

Northcliffe bought the KRNM group from Trinity Mirror in July 2007 in a deal that saw it acquire 25 of Trinity's local papers in Kent, East Surrey and Sussex including paid-for weeklies the Croydon Advertiser and the Surrey Mirror.

If the deal goes ahead Northcliffe will still have a presence in the region with titles including the Tunbridge Wells-based Kent and Sussex Courier and the Sevenoaks Chronicle.

The news comes after a restructure at Northcliffe which has seen it overhaul its senior management and switch two of its papers– the Torquay Herald Express and the Scunthorphe Telegraph – from daily to weekly publication.

A statement from the company said: "This week, the Kent Messenger Group intends to make a formal submission to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) informing them of their desire to acquire the seven newspaper titles published by Kent Regional News and Media.

"This proposed acquisition will now be subject to a 40 working-day investigative process by the OFT. During this time the KM will be working to finalise plans to ensure they are able to integrate KRNM titles with their existing portfolio as quickly as possible.

"The Kent Messenger expect the great local brands, knowledge and talent that will join the Group as a result of this acquisition will help them to improve their service and consequently make their business more sustainable.

"Northcliffe Media acquired Kent Regional News and Media in July 2007 and under its ownership the business has undergone significant change."

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