Trinity Mirror review: Birmingham Mail and Racing Post up for sale

Trinity Mirror is to keep its national newspaper division along with key regional newspapers in Scotland the North of England and Wales.

Following a four-month strategic business review the company has decided to sell its sports division which publishes the Racing Post along with regional titles in the Midlands, London and South East including one of the group's highest circulation papers the Birmingham Mail which the company said would be more valuable to other publishers.

The group said the move will enable the group to focus more on the retained national titles including The Daily and Sunday Mirrors and The People and regional titles including the Liverpool Echo, the Western Mail in Cardiff and the Journal in Newcastle.

The review referred to a rationalisation of its portfolio of titles and the development of the new "technology-enabled operating model" while growing advertising. By 2008 it intends to make savings of £20 million.

A full break-up of the national and regional titles, the company concluded, would have "adversely impacted shareholder value."

Commenting on the results of the comprehensive review chief executive Sly Bailey said: "It has taken a great deal of hard work by everyone involved but I am very pleased we can now present a strategic plan for Trinity Mirror that, once delivered, will make us one of the most efficient and modern media groups in Europe.

"The proposed disposals will enable us to concentrate on the heart of the group and adopt a new, technology-led operating model that will ensure we serve our advertisers and readers better from a significantly lower cost base. The new integrated model will allow Trinity Mirror plc to develop as a multi-platform media business and capitalise on the enormous strengths we have in our core markets. Now this review has been completed we can move forward swiftly and turn our vision into a reality."

Trinity has acquired five digital businesses since 2003 and launched more than 300 products and services and operating costs have been reduced by over £60million per annum while digital revenues have seen a £30million lift.

The best opportunity for growth is said to be within the group's retained regional businesses and digital assets.

Trinity's board has appointed Rothschild to advise on the company's disposals which are expected to be completed by the second and third quarters of 2007.

There will be more print and online integration to improve cross advertising opportunities and "serve our markets at a lower cost".

The review concluded that investment in technology would help the regional titles to drive revenues but at the same time editorial will be streamlined to "allow more extensive and efficient multimedia publishing."

National titles will have new look websites with a focus upon news, sport and show business with an increase in audio visual and user generated content.

• Trinity also reported a trading update revealing the company is continuing to face difficult market conditions.

Group advertising revenue for the last five months fell by 8.4 per cent year-on-year which was comparatively better than the9.6 per cent drop over the year.

Circulation revenue fell by 0.5 per cent over five months Trinity said it expected to see market conditions to stabaliser in 2007.


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