Hedge fund tycoon Odey collects £1.7m from bet on Trinity Mirror slide

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The hedge fund millionaire Crispin Odey was £1.7m richer yesterday after the arrest of four former Sunday Mirror journalists sent shares in owner Trinity Mirror tumbling more than 20 per cent.

Mr Odey took a £10m bet against the firm last November, although he told The Independent he "didn't dislike the company".

He said: "It looks like I'm a genius but I'm not – I've just got some fantastically good analysts. In a bull market you don't like shorting shares, it's a perfectly all right company but it had gone a bit far."

Mr Odey, who said he might buy in again at the stock's current levels, is worth around £455m, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. He is married to Nichola Pease, former head of the fund manager JO Hambro Capital Management and a Schroders non- executive director.

The payday came as the owner of the Daily Mirror yesterday saw annual profits crash 75 per cent following a £60m write-off on the value of its digital businesses and admitted there has been "a slow start" to this year as print revenues keep falling. Trinity Mirror's pre-tax profits dropped to £18.9m, with turnover tumbling 7 per cent to £706.5m, partly because its rival News International re-entered the Sunday market with The Sun.

Simon Fox, the former HMV chief executive who joined last September, insisted that the underlying performance was robust, but conceded that digital was "far from satisfactory", contributing £40.8m, or less than 6 per cent of group sales. Leaving aside acquisitions, digital revenues were down on a year earlier.

"We haven't had the right products, we haven't had the right web and mobile sites, we haven't had tablet editions," said Mr Fox, although he promised it was "a high priority" to put that right and is investing £8m.

He has merged national and regional papers into a single operation and wants titles to share content that has "little or no directly local relevance", such as travel, film and car reviews, which previously might have been produced by many separate papers. Critics say this undermines local journalism, but Mr Fox insisted it would result in "higher-quality content".