Trinity Mirror has sold its Northern Ireland newspapers to a private equity group advised by David Montgomery, the former chief executive of Mirror Group.
A group of seven titles, including Belfast's News Letter, was bought by 3i for £46.3m. The deal marks a return to the newspaper business for Mr Montgomery.
Mr Montgomery, who comes from Northern Ireland, will have an advisory role once the papers pass to 3i ownership, although he will not be involved in day-to-day management of the titles or have a seat on the new board that will now be established. He left national newspaper-owning Mirror Group around the time of its merger with the Trinity regional paper business in 1999.
Robin Marshall, a director of 3i, said the private equity house would now look for more titles north and south of the border in Ireland to add to its new paper business there.
"The dynamics of the Irish newspaper market and the general economy make it attractive for us," Mr Marshall said.
More newspapers are read per head in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in Europe. As well as the News Letter, a unionist paper first published in 1737, the titles acquired include the nationalist Derry Journal, and also the Donegal Democrat.
Trinity Mirror identified its Northern Irish papers as "non-core" when it announced the results of a group strategic review in July.
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