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Page 3 Profile: Richard Desmond, publisher

A triumphant year for  Channel 5’s head honcho?

Not according to this year’s Rich List. The annual Sunday Times publication claims that the owner of the Daily Express, Daily Star and OK! is now worth an estimated £860m – down a whopping £140m from his billion-pound valuation last year. Desmond, meanwhile, is more modest about his fortune. In a court filing last year he claimed his personal net worth was £200m. The Rich List takes in “other assets”.

Only £860m. My heart bleeds!

Yes, times have been “hard” of late. The one-time billionaire was tragically forced to cancel a £36m order for a private jet, and he scaled back his US ambitions by selling off the American edition of the gossip bible OK! Profits at his company Northern & Shell dropped more than 80 per cent to £5m in 2011, in a sign of the malaise within the newspaper industry. The launch of the Sun on Sunday hasn’t helped his weekend titles either: the circulation boost the Star on Sunday and the Sunday Express enjoyed following the demise of the News of the World has since been eroded.

Any successes?

The 61-year-old once said: “I’ve got so much money it’s ridiculous,” and regardless of what you think of his media titles, you don’t become that wealthy without some modicum of business acumen. In 2010, he bought the loss-making Channel 5 and “turned it into profit within weeks”. The Rich List estimates Northern & Shell could now be worth £300m.

What’s next?

He’s moving his media empire from London to Luton, and wants to redevelop his large Docklands printing site into homes. So perhaps we’ll see him bounce back up the list next year.

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