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Phone-hacking pot grows by £12.5m at Mirror, Express and Star publisher Reach + full 2018 accounts

Mirror, Express and Star newspaper publisher Reach (formerly Trinity Mirror) increased its cash pot for dealing with phone hacking cases by £12.5m last year, new figures show.

It spent £9.6m of the more than £70m provision in 2018, with £13.6m remaining. The publisher has faced more than 100 civil claims for historical phone-hacking carried out on the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People.

Following its acquisition of the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday in February last year, Reach’s adjusted revenue jumped by just over £100m to £723.9m in 2018, with an adjusted profit before tax of £141.9m, both figures up by 16 per cent year-on-year.

But, when compared like-for-like, Reach’s revenue fell by 7 per cent year-on-year. It made £623.2m in turnover in 2017.

Reach made an operating profit of £145.6m last year.

According to its full-year accounts, released today, Reach is on track to deliver at least £20m of annualised synergy savings by 2020.

The company said it had made £3m in “synergy cost savings” in 2018 as it cut out duplication across the Express, Star and Mirror teams, with up to 70 national newspaper redundancies falling over the 12 months.

A further £20m in cuts was the result of “structural cost savings”.

Reach made up to 140 people redundant in its regional newsrooms in 2018 under its strategy of building separate print and digital regional teams.

The company’s net debt is at £40.8m, with a pension deficit of £348.6m

In a statement alongside its accounts for the year, the company said: “Subject to there being no significant adverse implications arising from the UK’s exit from the European Union, we are confident that our strategy will enable continued progress to support profit and cash flow.”

Simon Fox, Reach chief executive, said: “I am pleased with the performance we have delivered in 2018 and encouraged by the stronger finish to the year.

“We have begun 2019 in a strong financial position with good momentum on the integration of Express & Star and with clear plans for digital growth.”

Picture: Reuters/Simon Dawson

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