Outlook: Mirror Group

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The Independent Online
SO DAVID MONTGOMERY might be in with a chance after all. The former Mirror Group chief executive has been trying to mount a venture capital backed bid for his old company ever since he was ousted earlier this year. We've yet to see the colour of his money, but Mr Montgomery must be thinking the tide is turning his way after yesterday's less than convincing bid for Mirror Group from Philip Graf's Trinity. The terms are more akin to a no premium merger than a knockout takeover bid, and although they have the irrevocable support of Mirror's largest shareholder, Phillips & Drew, they may be sufficiently poor to allow potential for a venture capital backed alternative.

Even the language is that of a "merger", with give and take on both sides and jobs for everyone. There's more cash from Trinity this time round than last, but fewer shares - presumably to take account of the fact that Trinity is being forced to make such a large disposal as a condition of the bid. The net result is that the two sets of shareholders will end up with roughly half the combined group each.

Plainly there are some advantages in size for the sake of it, while cost savings are anticipated to be pounds 15m annually. But in the end it is hard to think of this deal as anything other than just a rather uninspired piece of further newspaper consolidation. Lack-lustre or not, it is generally assumed in the City that the deal will go through - that in the end Mr Montgomery and the other potential venture capital bidder, Regional Independent Newspapers, will not be able to muster the firepower to compete. The clock is now running, and for Mr Montgomery or anyone else who fancies taking a pop, it's put up or shut up time.