Daily Mail group cancels regional papers sell-off

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The Independent Online

The media group Daily Mail & General Trust cancelled plans to sell regional newspaper group Northcliffe today.

DMGT put Northcliffe up for sale at the end of November, sparking interest from private equity firms and rival news groups such as Newsquest owner Gannett and Yorkshire Post publisher Johnston Press.

The business is thought to be worth more than £1.3 billion, but the company said the three offers it received for Northcliffe, as well as other proposals, "did not fully reflect the long-term value of the business".

"Consequently, the board has decided to retain Northcliffe," DMGT said in a statement.

Northcliffe titles include the Aberdeen Press & Journal, Western Daily Press and Western Morning News.

DMGT, which owns the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday publisher Associated Newspapers, said the the value of offers for Northcliffe reflected the downturn in trading in the regional newspaper sector.

UK regional newspaper publishers are struggling with declining readership numbers and falling advertising revenues on the back of a slowdown in the economy.

But the company said a recent restructuring of Northcliffe, including plans to close presses at Exeter, Hull, Grimsby and Lincoln, demonstrated that the business had greater value within DMGT.

The company said: "Having compared the value that others have put on the business with the value to DMGT of Northcliffe in a restructured format, the board is clear that the decision to retain Northcliffe will deliver greater value to shareholders than a sale in the current trading conditions."