Posted: September 21st, 2015
by Gerald Mowbray AMP Secretary
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held at 11.0am on Tuesday, 27h September 2004 at St Alban’s Centre, Leigh Place, Baldwin’s Gardens, Holborn, London
Ken Hudgell (President) David Thompson (Chairman) Gerald Mowbray (Secretary)
Eric Newson (Auditor) Roy White (Treasurer)
Apologies: Bob Avery Brian Bass Carolyn Cluskey
Michael Pickard Chairman, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Iain Urquhart Group Pensions Director, Trinity Mirror
Ralph Tomes Secretary, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Alan Burns C Director, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Andrew Golden C Director, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
1.0 Chairman’s Opening Remarks:
David Thompson welcomed all members present and guests representing Mirror Group Trustees and Trinity Mirror. A minute’s silence was then held in memory of Tony Boram, AMP’s long standing Chairman, who died soon after the last AGM.
DT advised that there would be a memorial service for Tony Boram at 11.0am (now 12 noon) on Wednesday, 18th January 2006 at St Brides Church, Fleet Street. All members are welcome to attend.
DT then invited Michael Pickard to address the meeting.
2.0 Michael Pickard Address: (full speech follows this report)
MP started by stating that he had been appointed the independent Chairman of MGN Trustees Ltd some six and a half years ago. MP then found that he lived near Tony Boram and they had several meetings discussing the MGN pension schemes history and the then current funds status. MP was very grateful for TB’s early advice and support.
MP then addressed the present pensions’ industry status and believed that there had been more newspaper column inches devoted to pensions last year than ever before. Indeed Bob Avery, writing in the recent AMP newsletter, believed that more had been written on pension matters last year than in all the years since 1991.
MP then updated the meeting on the status of the various MGN pension schemes. Pension fund asset values had risen following another good equity market year. However, liabilities had also risen as a result of people living longer – pensions are still expected to be paid out in eighty years time! The Company has now increased its deficit payments and this support is expected to increase over the next few years.
Details of the individual fund performances had already been included in the recent Pension News. In summary, MP repeated the message given at the last AGM that the long term security of the final salary-based pensions is very much linked to the prosperity of Trinity Mirror and its ability to top up the various MGN pension schemes.
MP then commented on the wider pension world and the various Government-introduced pensions’ legislation. MP explained the implications of the Pension Protection Fund but believed that the MGN schemes would not require support from the PPF. There was a strong covenant with the Company and which was underpinned by its ability to financially support the schemes. MP said that the MGN Pension Trustees enjoy a good working relationship with the Trinity Mirror Board and he believed that collaborative efforts would continue to protect the pension funds.
MP concluded by referring to the increasing importance of good corporate governance – this had been highlighted in the recent Pensions News. The Trustees are presently reviewing how to ensure that best practice is applied to all aspects of their responsibilities. More information will be given in future Pension News publications.
3.0 Ian Urquhart Presentation: (full speech follows this report)
IU apologised for Paul Vickers absence attending a Trinity Mirror Board Meeting that day but said that PV had sent his best wishes and given him details of the Company’s position for relaying to the meeting. IU confirmed that the Company continues to take a close interest in the affairs of the Association. IU added that he had been a trustee for nearly 12 years commencing soon after the dark days following Maxwell’s death.
IU then gave information on the Company’s financial health as the long-term security of the Mirror Pension Funds is intimately bound up with the financial well being of the Company. IU gave figures for 2004 and the half-year ending 30 June 2005. The figures reflected improvements on 2003.
Last year PV reported on the Chief Executive’s (Sly Bailey) Stabilise, Revitalise, Grow Strategy that was streamlining operations and making large investments in new press plants in Cardiff and the Midlands. IU updated the Strategy progress in 2005. In particular, the £83 million capital expenditure programme to provide full colour for the five national and some regional newspapers had now commenced.
Although the Daily Mirror circulation had declined during the first half of 2005 improvements had been seen in recent months – perhaps reflecting the passing of the fake Iraqi prisoner abuse pictures anniversary.
IU concluded that Trinity Mirror is in sound financial health despite the difficult trading conditions.
DT thanked both MP and PV for their informative presentations and opened the Meeting for any questions to the company or trustees representatives.
The following answers were given to questions from the Floor:-
Reference the Old Scheme figures that concerned most pensioners, IU replied that all three MGN pension schemes are supported by the employer.
IU confirmed the Daily Mirror’s 19.3% market share in 2004.
IU confirmed that he was unaware of any plans to sell the National Titles. MP added that the Trustees would now have to be consulted prior to any proposed sale.
IU shared the concern from the Floor on the falling circulation of The People but had no information on any promotional or other plans.
DT thanked Trinity Mirror for its generous support of the Association and, in particular, for arranging for the latest Newsletter to be printed and some 6,700 copies distributed to all Mirror pensioners and deferred pensioners earlier this month. Ralph Tomes was thanked for again arranging facilities for the AMP Newsletter mailing operation.
After being thanked for their attendance, comprehensive presentations and answering the several questions from the Floor, the company and trustee representatives left the meeting at 11.50am.
4.0 Chairman’s Report:
DT opened the members-only meeting by saying he was pleased to report that membership and funds had grown during the last year. Roy White would give the membership details during his financial report. The Committee had significantly increased its membership with new members joining after the last AGM. There had been three meetings during the year to progress recruitment and fund raising activities and two newsletters had been published. There had also been a well-attended meeting in Glasgow for Scottish members and this would now take place annually in the week following the London-based AGM.
DT thanked Carolyn Cluskey and Brian Bass in particular for their work in editing and producing the excellent newsletters – this was endorsed by the Meeting.
DT advised that the Committee’s aims for the next year are to continue to increase both the membership and the financial strength of the AMP. DT appealed for help in recruiting new members so that AMP represented the majority of pensioners and thus has a greater voice in representing future MGN pensioner interests.
DT referred to last year’s Scottish Annual Meeting resolution for a £10 annual membership to be considered by the new Committee. The Committee had considered this request earlier this year and had decided, given the extra administration work involved and potential hardship for older pensioners on small pensions, not to pursue an annual fee. However, the present £5 life membership subscription, which had been at this level since 1992, has now been raised to £10 – but with the option to make annual standing order payments if members wished to contribute further.
DT then advised that the Committee had suggested having a small number of well-known public figures as AMP Patrons in order to give greater influence to the work of the AMP. . DT asked for the meeting’s endorsement of the patron suggestion.
Ray Weaver proposed, seconded by Monty Court, the patron proposal and this was agreed unanimously by the Meeting.
DT advised that 2-3 names that had connections with the AMP activities in the past had been proposed and they would be now approached.
5.0 Treasurer’s Report:
Roy White referred to the full AMP Financial Statement for the year ended 31 March 2004 that had been published in the recent Newsletter. In summary, the overall Fund was £29,922.15 in credit and the Emergency Fund (previously Fighting Fund) accounted for £19,205.72 of that total. There were no questions arising and the accounts were formally approved.
RW then advised that the Spring Newsletter had brought in £10,100 and 9 new members. The recent Autumn Newsletter had brought in £2,000 and 83 new members to date. In addition some £890 had been committed by annual standing orders. The overall Fund now stood at just over £42,000.
6.0 Secretary’s Report:
GM welcomed the attendance of Andrew Golden and Alan Burns, presently serving on the MGN Pension Trustees Board as C Directors. The election of two C directors by pensioner and deferred pensioner members is now due again and GM reiterated David Thompson’s message in the recent AMP newsletter for members to again support both Alan and Andrew for re-election. Pension Trustee law is becoming more complex and now is not the time to lose the many years experience of both of these AMP members.
GM supported DT’s appeal for more AMP members. There had been a very welcomed increase during the last 12 months – from 1,825 to 2,247 members.. However, AMP still only represents less than a third of all pensioners. GM appealed to all present to spread the recruitment message to their colleagues.
GM added that all three MGN pension schemes were now closed to new members and thus pension scheme membership would continue to reduce. As a consequence, the 3 MGN schemes would become less influential compared with the active and expanding Trinity Mirror pension schemes in the future.
GM referred to the discussions earlier in the meeting on the security of the pension funds. This question continues to be asked by member each year. The Committee has agreed to spend some of the Emergency Fund monies by asking Giles Orton, the pensions’ specialist lawyer who had helped Tony Boram and the AMP in the earlier battles with Robert Maxwell and MGN, to investigate the strength of the Covenant between Trinity Mirror and the MGN Pension Trustees Ltd. Members will be advised of the results of this investigation and any legal opinion arising via one of the future AMP newsletters.
GM then referred to the present MGN Pension Trustee Board representation. Although pensioners and deferred pensioners represented some 75% of pension fund members their Board representation was only 15% (2 C directors). Active members’ representation was 35% and the Company had 50%. At some time in the future, when directors were up for re-election, AMP should pursue greater representation by pensioners and deferred pensioners. There was general support for this action.
7.0 Website Status:
Ray Weaver reported that the AMP website was now on broadband with faster and easier access for members. Updating of the website was now also much easier and faster. However, RayW reassured members that dial-up internet access by members was still available and unaffected by the website upgrading.
RayW then advised that the Guest Book facility had now been deleted. Although the software had been supplied free some years ago the supplier had the right to add adverts to the displayed page and some pop-up adverts had now started to appear. As AMP could not control what adverts appeared – or their appropriateness – the software had now been removed. However, members can still have their messages appearing on “Your Page” by e-mailing the information to Ray W for adding to the website.
8.0 C Director Trustees Address:
DT then invited the two C Director trustees to address the meeting.
Alan Burns first congratulated the Committee on the increase in membership during the past year. AMP had been criticised in the past for not being very representative of the MGN pension scheme members and it was important to continue expanding membership and for the AMP to go forward to meet any new challenges.
Reference the pension funds security AB advised that the best professional advisors were appointed by the Trustee Board and quizzed regularly on fund performances. AB added that pension fund trustees now had increased powers from the Government since new regulations were introduced from 1st September this year. The Company now had to consult with the trustees on fund deficits. The proposed share buy-back by the company last year would now not be able to be progressed, if raised again, without the support of the trustees.
However, GM had referred to Giles Orton being approached by AMP to offer advice on the strength of the present mandate between the company and the trustees on future deficit funding for any pension funds shortfall. AB expressed confidence in Giles Orton expertise and added that Giles had been present at the last AGM attended by Tony Boram. AB then advised that a trustee sub-committee has now been set up, and including some of its professional advisors, to discuss the implications of any company sale or part sale on the funding deficit responsibilities.
AB concluded by thanking the AMP for the support given to both Andrew Golden and himself in the past and hoped that this support would continue.
Andrew Golden referred to his “Spanish” portrait in the latest AMP Newsletter and hoped that members will be able to recognise him today. AG then referred to the increased training and legislation updates required by trustees today. AG stressed that, as a consequence, security of pensions had improved and reiterated Michael Pickard’s comment that pension members were now recognised as creditors of the company.
AG referred to GM’s comment on trustee representation. The MGN Trustee Board had recently started discussing its membership make-up and the increased importance of the pensioner membership numbers had been noted.
AG thanked AMP members for their support during the past 6 years and for the Chairman’s and Committee’s endorsement of both AB’s and AG’s re-election to the Trustee Board for a further 3 years.
A number of questions were raised from the Floor and answered by the two trustees:-
A new company cannot now walk away from the deficit funding obligations. Guarantees would be sought by the Trustees from Trinity Mirror prior to any sale.
3% annual pension increases are covered by the Covenant between the Company and the Trustees.
The new government legislation now prevents any Maxwell type situation.
It is considered unlikely that any new government would prejudice the present pensions’ legislation.
Company pensions’ holiday pay back is now covered by the deficit funding covenant.
A vote of thanks was given to both trustees for both their informative presentations and answering questions from the Floor.
9.0 Election of Officers & Committee for 2005/2006:
DT advised that all of the Committee were willing to stand again for another year. However, Roy White intimated that he was only willing to stand for one more year.
Mony Court proposed, seconded Ray Weaver, that the present officers be re-elected. Agreed unanimously.
David Thompson proposed, seconded by Roy White, that the present committee members, be re-elected. Agreed unanimously.
Roy White proposed, seconded by David Thompson, that Eric Newson be re-elected as Auditor – agreed unanimously.
The Chairman invited any others interested in joining the Committee to contact him after the meeting. The Chairman then thanked the outgoing Committee for its support during the last year.
10.0 Other Business:
DT reconfirmed details of the Memorial Service for Tony Boram. The service will be a “celebration of the life of” as with other similar services attended by DT in the past. The St Brides choir will be present. AMP will underwrite the costs but will seek donations from other parties. Ray W will put this information on the AMP website. Details of the memorial service will also be advertised in the Daily Mirror and appropriate broadsheet newspapers.
GM advised that the next AGM is to be held on Tuesday, 26th September 2006. The venue and time is as this year’s AGM.
The meeting ended at 12.35pm with a vote of thanks to the Chairman.
Estimated 75 members attending.
Subsequently, some complaints received that some speakers could not be heard towards the back of the hall. GM will arrange for microphones to be available for the next AGM.
Thank you very much David, good morning ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to begin by making a personal comment about Tony Boram. The tribute by Geoffrey Goodman reproduced in your latest Newsletter, gives a very moving perspective of a remarkable man, covering many more years than the five and a half I knew him.
So it would be presumptive of me to add more than just a few words. But I would like to record that when I became your chairman in February 1999, we immediately discovered that we only lived some five miles apart. So it was very easy for us to meet up, both at the outset of my appointment and then occasionally, usually over an agreeable lunch in his local hostelry.
I always welcomed not only the historical perspective Tony brought to the table, but also, even when he was not at all well, he brought an acute insight into what was going on. For that and all his support I was very grateful indeed.
In preparing my remarks for today, as in the last five years I have reviewed what I said a year ago. I find that in many respects I could repeat what I said last time!
The rate of change in the pensions arena continues unabated. Indeed, having done no actual research whatsoever, I believe I can confidently assert that since we last met there have been more column inches in the Press on pensions matters and radio and TV exposure, that in any previous 12 month period in our history- and this includes the year following the 5th of November 1991.
I drafted those words before reading Bob Avery in your newsletter – he may be right that it exceeds the accumulative total since 1991.
As last year, what I shall do today is to update you on the position of the Mirror Group schemes, and then set the schemes in the context of some of what is going on in the pensions arena as a whole.
THE MIRROR SCHEMES
A couple of months ago you will have received your copies of Pensions News. I am mindful that they report on the figures for the calendar year 2004, and that the Actuary’s Report on the financial position that is discussed in the Pensions News was at 31 December 2003, almost 21 months ago now.
But, the over-riding messages are in fact very similar to what I reported a year ago.
Firstly, the investment values for both the main schemes have had a good performance, as they did in 2003. This has helped redress the torrid times of 2001 and 2002.
For the Old Scheme, although the cash demands to pay pensions usually means an excess of expenditure over investment returns, in fact last year there was a positive balance, that is to say, the fund grew over the year. This cannot be expected to be repeated.
For the New Scheme, the Scheme value increased last year by over 20%, from £131 million to £158 million. In fact in the space of two years the value of the New Schemes’ assets has gone up by more than 50%. This is due to a combination of good investment returns, normal employer and employee contributions, and special deficiency contributions from Mirror Group.
But as I emphasised last year, asset values cannot be consider in isolation.
So the second message is that, for both the Old Scheme and its associated Past Service Scheme, and for the New Scheme, more money is required from the employer – yet again. For the both Schemes, increased deficiency payments have been required- channelled into the Past Service Scheme in respect of the Old Scheme. And in the case of the New Scheme, there has been the additional dimension for some time now of ever increasing ‘normal’ employer contributions.
But apart from investment values and the returns on them other matters influence the financial position of the schemes. People are living longer too, which is upping the money required. And as I have said before, the upward pressure on employer contributions is likely to continue.
The next message is that, if suddenly the Schemes had had to be wound up on the valuation date of 31st December 2003 – which of course they were not, so we are talking about a theoretical situation – then the amounts available for actives and deferreds, after providing fully for the pensioners, would have been very restricted indeed.
What this means, and here I must repeat the message I gave last year, perhaps the most important message of all, is that no final salary-based pensions can be unconditionally guaranteed. The long-term, 100%, security of final salary-based pensions is very much linked to the prosperity of the employer. That is to say, linked to the ability of the employer to top up the Scheme’s finances.
PENSION PROTECTION FUND
This is so, notwithstanding the existence now of the Pensions Protection Fund, already known by its acronym the PPF. The PPF came into effect on the 6th of April this year. It was set up under Government legislation, but it is administered by a separate PPF board
A scheme will fall back on the PPF when the employer becomes insolvent and cannot meet its pension funding obligations. For those who are not over pension age, the PPF will only give protection up to a certain ceiling. And for those who are unfortunate enough to have to rely on it, the PPF will not give any future pension increases in respect of pensionable service prior to the 6th of April 1997.
But I am pleased to reassure you that in my opinion the prospect of the PPF being called on to support your pensions is very remote in the extreme. This is because we believe Trinity Mirror, the company ultimately behind the Schemes, has a very strong covenant, a very good ‘ability to pay’.
But of course there are companies who will need to rely on the PPF – rather too many for comfort by all accounts. The PPF needs to get contributions each year from the ongoing schemes. There will be no government funding. It has to be self-financing. Talks are going on now as to the fairest method- or perhaps I should I say the least unfair method- of levying schemes in the future.
For its first year, schemes are being levied on a simple per capita basis: £15 for each active and pensioner member, and £5 for each deferred member. We have not paid anything yet, because the PPF are considering our representations that there should be no double counting. The point is that, as many of you know, a lot of Mirror Group members are members of both the Old and New schemes, and the Invoice we received did not take this into account. That is to say, if for example you are a pensioner member of both schemes, they wanted £30 for your membership, not £15
Ultimately, no matter what the outcome, although the cheque to the PPF will have to be written by the schemes, what will happen is that the amount paid will eventually have to be met by the contributions paid to the schemes by Mirror Group, that is to say it will fall on employers.
Going forward, the PPF board have made it clear that the levy will contain a significant element that is risk-based, that is to say it will be based to a degree on the perceived probability of a scheme becoming a burden on the PPF at some stage in the future. In July the PPF issued a long consultative paper on their proposals.
We shall be making representations to the PPF board, because it is clear that unless there are changes, the contribution burden on your schemes will be unfairly higher than it should be. The problem is of course, that there will be other schemes making there own arguments to the same effect! As I have indicated, the money has to be found from somewhere. It is a question of just how the pain is to be shared.
RELATIONSHIP WITH MIRROR GROUP
So how is your Trustee Board, and the Employer, reacting to all this change- and there are others changes coming too, that I shall not have time to cover, such as the new ‘A Day’ tax regime coming in next April. And how are the Trustee & Employer, both parties – I use that word parties, not sides, advisedly – how are they reacting to the financial pressures? Well, as I said last year, and this is I believe crucial, the Trustee looks for a collaborative effort, not a confrontational one, and Trinity Mirror have the same attitude.
But these are not easy times for companies, who are having to adjust- as indeed are trustee boards- to a new environment where Trustees, to satisfy their ongoing obligations to members and to the new pensions Regulator, and having to look over their shoulders at the PPF, are having to take a much more pro-active role in assessing the employer’s financial position and indeed its business plans and prospects.
As I said last year, when there is a deficit, it is not realistic to suggest that Trustees should say to an employer: “we must have an early injection of substantial funds to cover all the shortfall”. That is no good if it prejudices the employers’ short-term financial position, or its overriding obligation to its shareholders. It also has to be borne in mind that determination of contributions to pension schemes is governed by Trust Deeds and Rules.
But we are in a dialogue with Trinity Mirror to see what mutually beneficial solutions can be adopted. It is now being recognised that pension fund are in effect unsecured creditors of companies.
And Trustees will have an obligation to see that other creditors, and indeed shareholders who in theory are lower down the pecking order – although it will not help the financial perception of PLCs if shareholders are not appropriately looked after- that other creditors are not treated more favourably at the pension schemes’ expense.
I am sure that all employers whose pension schemes have deficits are looking to see how their financial obligations- obligations normally inherited from decisions taken by previous managements decades ago- can be minimised. I am sure a lot of firms are saying ‘I wish we did not have to start from here’.
And as another aside, you can bet that hardly any new final salary schemes, with their open-ended commitments, are being set up today. Long gone are the days of scheme surpluses and what were known as pension contribution holidays, where employers could safely suspend making contributions.
One way an employer’s contributions can be minimised in the long term is for the Investment performance of the scheme’s assets to be ahead of expectations. But with the prospect of greater rewards comes greater risk and volatility. I expect a lot of you have personal experience of this in your private affairs.
In the past year or so we have put a great deal of effort into reviewing our investment strategy, and the outcome was that far-reaching changes were introduced in the summer.
Apart from wanting to maximise investment returns within a context of sensible risk-taking, what we wanted to do is to plan ahead so that the cash flow needed to pay pensions is virtually guaranteed. That is to say, so that investments do not have to be sold at the wrong time.
Our investment consultants laid the groundwork by carrying out some sophisticated long-term modelling of the projected income and outgo.
I indicated earlier that the Old Scheme now normally has a net cash outflow, and whilst this will not happen to the New Scheme for some years ahead, we have been keen to get the best possible long-term framework in place.
There will be quite a lot about this in the 2005 Reports and Financial Statements. Today I would just like to summarise by saying that what has principally happened is that: money has been moved from Government stocks to corporate bonds, especially in the Old Scheme; both schemes are having a greater proportion of their equities in overseas stocks; and a formal mechanism has been introduced for reducing over the years the proportion of equities held in the schemes. The recent strength of the equity markets has resulted already in one of the trigger points for selling some equities to be reached.
I would like to conclude my talk by referring to what is nowadays described as ‘Corporate Governance’. It is essentially about how companies organise themselves at Board level. Not perhaps a subject to keep everyone awake, but actually it is growing in importance. And if current best practice had been applied 15 years ago, I certainly would not have been addressing you today.
Most companies include in their annual reports what seems to be ever-growing sections about how the board and its committees are organised, and how the board examines its performance. This is now happening in pension schemes. You may have noticed quite a lot in my introduction in the Pensions News on this, reflecting what was in the Annual Reports, and we plan to expand it further next year.
The commitment that is required today is placing an increasing burden on the lay trustee in particular. I mentioned last year the forthcoming formal requirements on trustees in relation to knowledge and understanding levels.
Nothing wrong with good standards to aim for, but it is a fine balance, and already one of our trustees, James Land has recently resigned because with all his other activities, including in particular at a school where he is heavily involved, he just cannot spare the time.
We are in the middle of a review of how the board perceives it is operating, and how we can fine tune things so that we can continue to deliver.
But in relation to what all this really means, perhaps a good analogy is with a swan. There is a lot of activity that no one sees. At the end of the day what matters to you is that your bank credit goes in each month, for the correct amount, that is goes in on the due date, and that next year’s increase is paid too, and the next years’ ad infinitum.
What all our work behind the scenes is all about, is to ensure that that continues, not just for you, but for future pensioners too.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attention.
Iain A. Urquhart, Group Pensions Director
Paul Vickers sends his good wishes and is sorry he cannot attend.
I am pleased to be here for what is the 12th time I have attended your AGM.
As the Company’s representative this year, I am able to confirm that the main Board of Trinity Mirror takes a very close interest on pensions in general, as well as the affairs of your Association.
As well as being Group Pensions Director for the Company, I have also had the privilege of serving as Secretary to the Trustee for 5 years followed by 6 years as a Director of the Trustee, MGN Pension Trustees Limited. My involvement goes back to just before the Global Settlement; August 1994.
The main purpose of this briefing is to give you news about the Company’s health.
This is vitally important because the long-term security of the Schemes is closely linked with the financial well-being of the Company.
As Paul Vickers has done in previous years, I will give you some details of the financial results for the half to the end of June 2005, and for the full year to December 2004.
Some of you will already be familiar with these figures, either as shareholders or from the press.
You will understand that although these figures are already a little out-of-date, they are the most recent that I can give you as I can only give figures that have previously been announced to the Stock Exchange.
The operating profit for the ½ year was £128.3 million, which was 7.9% up year on year.
The operating profit for the full-year was £253.1 million, an increase, year on year of 19.1%.
Turnover of the half year was £579.3 million, which was 1.2% up year on year and for the full year was £1142 million, i.e. ONE BILLION ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-TWO MILLION POUNDS up 4.3%.
The operating margin on the regional newspapers rose from 27.7% to 28.4%.
When Sly Bailey was appointed Chief Executive 2½ years ago, she carried out a review which resulted in the strategy….
“Stabilise Revitalise Grow”
which the Board believes will ensure that the Group as a whole is worth more than the sum of its parts.
What has occurred so far: As stated, last year:
‘Streamlined operations. The setting up of so called “expert functions” – Finance, HR, IT reporting through to the Company. (Pensions, Secretarial and Legal already “expert” and centralized)
‘Manufacturing’ – all presses reporting into one division – use for all titles. Invested £90 million in new press plants in Cardiff and Birmingham. Another £8 million on investing equipment in Birmingham so that the National titles can be printed there.
Progress in 2005
Further progress during 2005 has been made despite the difficult advertising market conditions which have been experienced since March this year.
Delivery against stated financial objectives. Commencing a £83 million capital expenditure program to provide full colour for the 5 National newspapers, and a number of regional titles by early 2005 (paid out of cash flow). Net debt only slightly up at £457.4 million, but stabilized.
Acquisitions of: smarthomes.com – New Homes Directory, GAAPweb” – Recruitment
and in addition an offer has been made for HotGroup Plc – Recruitment
During the half year Daily Mirror circulation declined with market share of 19.3%, just 1% below that reported to you last year.
Improvements were, however, seen in May and June, reflecting amongst other things the passing of the anniversary of the fake Iraqi prisoner abuse pictures published in May 2004.
The message is that Trinity mirror is in sound financial health despite the difficult trading conditions.
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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