Mirror admits merger talks with Trinity but may sell to Germans

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THE Mirror Group yesterday confirmed it had been in talks with Trinity International, the regional newspaper publisher, about a possible merger, but said the talks had now ended.

David Montgomery, the Mirror's chief executive, is understood to have approached his counterpart at Trinity, Philip Graf, a few weeks ago. Mirror said the talks had been at a "very exploratory" stage and had been terminated when Axel Springer, the German publishing group, announced last Friday it was considering making an offer for Mirror.

Observers believe Mr Montgomery is keen to sell the company. "Monty is talking up the price of the Mirror by suddenly suggesting that there are lots of other bidders," one expert said.

Mirror shares surged 25.5p to 243.5p yesterday as the market for the first time was able to digest the implications of a possible bid. Analysts said that any offer would have to be worth more than 255p, with some suggesting an offer could go as high as 300p.

However, many of the possible bids may never emerge. Trinity is believed to be reluctant to get involved in a public auction. And Independent Newspapers, the Irish newspaper group which owns The Independent, is understood not to be interested in making an offer.

Trinity shares rose 2.5p to 560p.