MIRROR MERGER MAKES US UK No1; Landmark Pounds 2bn Deal Creates Newspaper Giant

Article excerpt

THE Mirror is at the heart of a pounds 2billion merger creating Britain's biggest newspaper empire.

The paper's owner, Mirror Group, yesterday signed a landmark deal to join forces with regional newspaper publisher Trinity.

The merger creates a company with annual sales of more than pounds 1billion, profits of more than pounds 217million and 12,000 employees.

Trinity-Mirror will produce 155 titles with weekly sales of almost 35 million - nearly one in four of Britain's total - more than any of its rivals.

Chief executive Philip Graf, who will head the new company, described it as the perfect marriage.

He said: "The key thing is we're creating a unique combination of national and regional titles. It creates a more balanced group with increased financial firepower."

The larger group would also have increased buying power and be able to cut costs by pounds 15million a year.

It would be better placed to exploit new media such as the Internet and on-line betting.

Mirror chief executive John Allwood, who becomes Mr Graf's deputy and group finance director, described it as a "great deal".

He said: "This is the start of an exciting new chapter in Mirror Group's history.

"It will put us at the forefront of newspaper publishing in this country.

"The company has been through some traumatic times in the past ten years but that is now behind us.

"We can now stand up there as the biggest and the best and take the business forward."

Mirror Group chairman Sir Victor Blank, who will have the same position with the new company, hailed the deal as an important milestone for both businesses. He said: "If someone placed an advert in each one of our newspapers it would be seen by 41 per cent of the population.

"We will have 155 titles but we will have particular strength in a number of regions, very real strength indeed. We will be the largest newspaper publisher in the UK by weekly circulation and the second largest in Europe."

Mirror Group managing director Roger Eastoe will become managing director of Trinity Mirror's national newspapers and the Racing Post.

The deal will bring under the same umbrella The Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People and Trinity's flagship regional titles such as the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post. …