Trinity Mirror staff profit from sale of its Irish titles

3i adviser: Montgomery will not be involved in day-to-day running

 

Journalists are set to cash in following the announcement that Trinity Mirror has agreed to sell its Irish titles to venture capital group 3i for £46.3m.

Trinity has agreed to pay journalists 5 per cent of their annual salary on completion of the sale, which has been agreed at well above the £30m to £40m price tag predicted by analysts.

The newspapers included in the deal are The News Letter in Belfast, Derry Journal, Foyle News, Donegal Democrat, Belfast News, City News and Letterkenny Listener.

The News Letter was established in 1737 and claims to be the oldest continuously published English-language newspaper.

Former Mirror Group chief executive David Montgomery advised 3i over the acquisition but will not be involved in the day-to-day running of the titles. The papers will be put under the management of a newly formed company called Local Press Limited, which will be headed by Jean Long, who is currently commercial director of the Derry Journal.

Other companies that had been interested in buying the titles included Independent News & Media and Newsquest.

NUJ Irish organiser Des Fagan said: “We have been in discussions over the past couple of months with management at the Derry Journal.

“The payment of a 5 per cent loyalty bonus to a certain extent greased the wheels of the deal and made people feel they had some involvement in the profitability of the newspapers.”

According to Fagan, the NUJ has broadly welcomed news that 3i is buying the Trinity titles.

He said: “We are hopeful that they will leave well enough alone – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

“I’m led to believe local management will be kept in place – we’ve had a good relationship with them and want to maintain it.

“There are certain media groups we had a lot of concern about – those concerns were to do with their amount of media ownership across the 32 counties.

“And we would have had concerns about companies which don’t have a good record on industrial relations with the NUJ.

“All in all it’s not been too bad a result as far as we are concerned.”

The sale is expected to be completed early next year, subject to approval by the Irish Competition Authority.

Robin Marshall, 3i director, said his company planned to “back existing management and grow these titles”.

By Dominic Ponsford

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