Montgomery in talks to buy control of Express papers

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THE DEPOSED Mirror Group chief executive, David Montgomery, is understood to be seeking to buy the Express newspapers.

Mr Montgomery has met Lord Hollick, proprietor of The Express and Sunday Express, as well as the Daily Star, and told him he is interested in buying the two flagship papers.

Both papers are edited by Rosie Boycott, whom Mr Montgomery brought from magazine editing to edit The Independent on Sunday and, briefly, The Independent.

Mr Montgomery is believed to have held talks with two City venture capital companies, one of which is Apax, to raise money for the venture. He told friends he is keen to run a newspaper group again.

If Lord Hollick does decide to sell to Mr Montgomery he will probably sell the ailing Daily Star elsewhere, possibly to the Barclay brothers, whose representative, Brian Hitchen, has been seen in the building.

But it is the seven-day Express that Mr Montgomery has his eyes on. The sale would involve a kiss-and-make-up act between Lord Hollick and Mr Montgomery as the two did not get on when Lord Hollick was a non-executive director at the Mirror group under Mr Montgomery.

Journalists at The Express, a number of whom worked under Mr Montgomery, are said to be alarmed at the prospect of renewing acquaintance with him.

One man who has stated in print that he is not the biggest fan of Mr Montgomery is the Express columnist and former Independent editor Andrew Marr.

He is said to have run into Mr Montgomery at a restaurant where the latter said how nice it would be to work together again. Whether the feeling is mutual remains to be seen.

Lord Hollick, a New Labour supporter who has financial interests in television including Channel 5, already seems to be burying the hatchet with Mr Montgomery.

He has been telling senior journalists at The Express that Mr Montgomery was "a good chief executive" at the Mirror.