Daily Mail and General Trust is considering a bid for the Independent titles, according to James Robinson writing in the Observer.
“Industry sources” have told Robinson that the Independent titles could be off-loaded for £1, with DMGT taking on their liabilities.
Sources close to Indepedendent News and Media have told Robinson that the papers are not for sale – but that rival groups have offered to take on back office functions such as human resources and accounts.
It cites sources as saying that a tie-up between in the Independent and Trinity Mirror was possible but that “other groups were also in the running”.
According to the Sunday Times such a tie-up would have put the Independent titles into the black last year.
The Independent titles have lost money since they were bought by IN&M in 1995.
A wholesale buy-up by the DMGT does seem far-fetched – considering the Mail publisher already has one loss-making daily paper in the shape of the Evening Standard.
Any merger of titles between the Mail and the Independent would be unthinkable because their readerships are so different – but some sort of merger between the Standard and Indy is more plausible.
Robinson also notes in his piece that Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre turns 60 next month and may be considering a move to a different role in the business and handing over the editorship.
The future of the Independent titles has been put in question by the activities of rebel IN&M shareholder Denis O’Brien – who now has a 26 per cent stake in the business and wants the Independents to be sold off.