Sun, 23 September, 2018


Mirror merger gets the nod

Posted: March 1st, 2018

TRINITY MIRROR GENERAL MEETING, February 27 2018, Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL

By RAY WEAVER

There were no surprises when a shareholders’ vote on Trinity Mirror’s takeover of the Express titles – including the Daily Express, Daily Star, Sunday Express, Daily Star Sunday, OK!, and New! – took place at a TM general meeting on February 27 (2018). The resolution – “To approve the proposed acquisition of the Northern and Shell publishing assets” – was overwhelmingly approved.

At the meeting, held at the Museum of London Docklands, TM chairman David Grigson reiterated Trinity’s strategy “to grow, build, protect and consolidate”, and said that acquiring Northern and Shell’s publishing assets is seen as part of that consolidation.

In answer to a question from the floor, he confirmed that Richard Desmond would hold the third largest shareholding in the new company but would not be offered a position on the board. It is estimated that by “removing duplications” the new company would see savings of £20 million by 2020.

He added that Northern and Shell’s circulation revenue in 2016 was £116 million, which represented 61 per cent of N&S total revenue.

Simon Fox, Chief Executive of TM, stated that the acquisition would “help the titles to become more successful” and that editors “will have full control”, adding that the TM Board “does not involve itself in editorial matters”.

Commenting on the pension schemes, group finance director Vijay Vaghela explained that as part of the deal, TM would be making an upfront payment of £41.20million to the Northern and Shell pension schemes.

Questioned from the floor, he agreed this payment would go a long way to wiping out the Northern and Shell pension scheme deficits, which at the end of 2016 were £31.30 million. He also acknowledged that, by comparison, the TM pension schemes were £377.60 million in deficit at end of 2017.

The new company will administer six pension schemes: MGN, TM and MIN (Trinity Mirror group), Express 98, Senior Management, and West Ferry Printers. Vijay Vaghela stated that the trustees of all six pension schemes had been consulted prior to the takeover being announced.

There was no representation at the meeting from the institutional shareholders, and a mere 24 ordinary shareholders attended.

After the meeting I asked David Grigson what the new company would be called. He told me the new name would be announced at or before the AGM on May 3, adding that “the new title would not include the word ‘Trinity’!”

 

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