Free newspaper entrepreneur Chris Bullivant has vowed to launch a newspaper in Birmingham after claiming that he was forced out of the bidding race to buy the Birmingham Mail by its owner Trinity Mirror.
Bullivant, who publishes free newspapers in the West Midlands, said that Trinity had eliminated ‘important information’from documents and the prospectus given to the other candidates in the bidding war for its Midlands titles, making it impossible for him to continue in the race.
He told Press Gazette: ‘Trinity didn’t give us the papers we needed; they gave us mainly blank pages as far as we are concerned, because we are competitors.
‘I am very disappointed and I think we weren’t dealt with fairly because of the obliteration of information that apparently every other candidate had. There were 10 or 15 pages of A4 and a prospectus of around 80 pages, and a lot of the important information was missed out.
‘I think they were concerned that we were trade competitors. Because we couldn’t get enough information we had to withdraw.’
Bullivant’s company, Observer Standard Newspapers, publishes 17 free titles across Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands. In 1985 he launched a free Birmingham paper, the Daily News, which was bought out by Trinity.
‘I’ve launched in the Midlands three times, and believe me there will be a fourth time. Birmingham is in my sight,’he said.
Bullivant added that, in the event of a rumoured management buy-out, he believed that the company would be likely to follow the Manchester Evening News’s strategy of a partpaid/part-free title.
‘I think that the Birmingham Mail has become a poor vehicle for advertising and all newspapers are dependent to the tune of 80 per cent on adverting at least, even the paid-for ones. When I worked for the Birmingham Mail 40 years ago the circulation was just under 400,000 and now it’s just over 70,000,’he said.
‘I’m not in favour of the partpaid/ part-free strategy, but I think that if the management take over in Birmingham then that’s what they will do.
‘I don’t think you can go far wrong if you follow the Manchester Evening News but I don’t have any great faith in the long run for any of these metropolitan evenings. I believe they will be doomed in favour of the internet and other sources.”
It is understood that the deal is likely to go ahead in early September after the due diligence process.
Trinity Mirror would not comment.