O'Reilly may go solo on MGN: Irish tycoon believed to be seeking control of Mirror Group through purchase of a 29 per cent stake

TONY O'REILLY, the Irish foods and media tycoon, is believed to have ruled out a full bid for Mirror Group Newspapers in favour of a straight purchase of a dominant 29.9 per cent stake in the late Robert Maxwell's newspaper group.

Mr O'Reilly is understood to have approached Roy Greenslade, the former Daily Mirror editor, about having his old job back. The Heinz boss also has plans for a boardroom reshuffle and has drawn up a list of cost-cutting measures.

According to advisers in London and Dublin, Mr O'Reilly has decided that if he makes a move at all for MGN it will be on a strictly solo basis. They say he reached the decision after seeing how easy it was for Conrad Black to acquire effective control of Fairfax, the Australian group, with a minority stake.

'Fairfax is regarded as a template,' one Dublin adviser said. 'We have realised we don't need to own 100 per cent to exercise management control.'

By limiting himself to 29.9 per cent - the maximum purchase allowed before a full bid becomes compulsory - Mr O'Reilly will avoid having to go into the market and be able to go it alone.

At present John Talbot, the administrator from Arthur Andersen, the accountants, controls 56 per cent of the equity. Mr O'Reilly's Irish group, Independent Newspapers, can afford to buy a 29.9 per cent stake from him for around pounds 100m. Mr Talbot and National Westminster Bank, which has security over 33 per cent of MGN, would be more agreeable to a partial sale, the O'Reilly camp believes, if they thought their remaining shares would receive a lift.

Since they were relaunched two months ago, MGN shares have languished at around 60p, well below their May 1991 flotation price of 125p.

The prospective appointment of Mr Greenslade, who was widely regarded as a successful editor and is well liked by Mirror staff, may strike a serious blow to the attempt of Richard Stott, the current editor, to lead a management buyout. Mr Stott has faced an uphill task in persuading the City to back his bid.

Mr Greenslade, who was dismissed by Maxwell in March 1991 and has since worked as a consultant at News International, could not be reached for comment. But it is believed he has set his heart on a return to the Mirror - so much so that he has taken himself out of the running for other editorships - and has indicated he is willing to serve under Mr O'Reilly.

The Heinz boss's determination to seize control of MGN on his own will end speculation that he might join forces with other bidders. Despite obvious competition problems, other UK newspaper groups had been linked with Mr O'Reilly.

Lord Rothermere, the Associated Newspapers proprietor, who is a friend of Mr O'Reilly, has made no secret of his desire to see the Mirror, which was owned by his grandfather, Lord Northcliffe, returned to his family. United Newspapers has also been mentioned as a possible buyer.

Independent Newspapers already distributes the Daily Star in Ireland and Lord Stevens, United's chairman, was a guest of Mr O'Reilly at the races recently. Such speculation can now be discounted.

Mr O'Reilly, who has appointed Charterhouse in London to act on his behalf, is likely to emphasise that he needs no assistance.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there