Trinity may alter share structure

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The Independent Online
TRINITY International Holdings, the publisher whose titles include the Liverpool Echo and Southport Visiter, gave indications yesterday that is ready to change its anachronistic share structure.

At present, holders of Trinity's ordinary shares have limited voting rights and control of the company rests with 12 management shares held by directors.

'We are aware that this is not the most usual share structure,' Philip Graf, Trinity's deputy chief executive, said.

'It is something that has served this business well in the past but we are aware it may not do so in the future.'

Mr Graf said that the board regularly reviewed the shareholding structure but there were no plans to change it in the immediate future.

One reason may be because The Telegraph group, controlled by Conrad Black, owns 13 per cent of the ordinary shares but, as it currently stands, exerts no influence on the company.

Tight cost controls and the merger of two free newspapers in Liverpool helped Trinity to increase pre-tax profits for the 26 weeks to 27 June by 14 per cent to pounds 7.89m. Earnings rose 0.4p to 8.2p and the interim dividend is increased to 2.7p (2.5p).

The group benefited because the receipts of its pounds 23.8m rights issue, which it called to help pay for the pounds 45m purchase of a portfolio of Scottish newspapers and magazines from Lonrho, came in before it had to settle. The delay was because the purchase has to be approved by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Mr Graf said that the purchase would dilute earnings slightly at first and Trinity would have to invest further in the Scottish business.

However, in its other regional papers the group had brought in tight cost controls and this led to a rise of more than pounds 1m in operating profits to pounds 6.92m. Display advertising had picked up in its Liverpool papers, but classified advertising was still poor.

The group is still having a difficult time in Canada, where its portfolio of papers is being hit by heavy competition.

Trinity has installed a new management team and progress is being made, though this will not show through until next year.

Operations in the US are thriving, but the weak dollar has meant that this has not shown through in sterling terms.

Trinity's ordinary shares rose 9p to 250p on the results.

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