Trinity Mirror joins bidding for Newscom

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TRINITY MIRROR, the UK's largest regional newspaper publisher, yesterday joined the race to buy News Communications & Media, the regional publishing company, taking the number of potential buyers to three.

Trinity Mirror, which also publishes the Mirror, The People and Scotland's Daily Record, said it had informed the board of Newscom of its "potential interest in making an offer" and applied to Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, for permission to buy the company.

Two other media groups, the US company Gannett and Edinburgh-based Johnston Press, have already registered an interest in buying Newscom, which has a market value of about pounds 340m, and are seeking approval from the Department of Trade and Industry. Gannett made its approach through Newsquest, the regional newspaper publisher it bought up earlier this year.

One analyst said: "It's obviously going to be a bit of an auction now ... We are already in value destruction territory." He said both Trinity and Gannett have "very deep pockets" but Johnston could realise the best cost savings by combining Newscom's head office and printing operations with those of Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers, which Johnston acquired earlier this year.

Shares in Newscom, which have risen 36 per cent since Gannett first declared its interest on 10 December, yesterday closed unchanged at 1387.5p. Trinity Mirror's shares finished 9p higher at 616.5p.