Magazine article Marketing

Will Gannett Be the Granada of the UK's Regional Newspapers?

Magazine article Marketing

Will Gannett Be the Granada of the UK's Regional Newspapers?

Article excerpt

Thanks to all the dotcom ads, Gannett shows no sign of running out of money

Now that the consolidation of ITV has been sorted out, apart from the ultimate destination of HTV, the battleground shifts to regional newspapers.

Gradually regional newspapers are following the trail already blazed by the rest of the media industry, although there will probably always be room for the small, independent and sometimes family-owned operator.

Eyes in the industry are turning to Yorkshire as three groups line up to have a crack at Regional Independent Media, publisher of the Yorkshire Post. The deal is particularly significant because it is the last free-standing large group available for sale before the expanding groups start to devour each other -- if legislation and the competition authorities allow it.

If US company Gannett wins the bidding, it will, through its UK subsidiary Newsquest, become the largest regional publisher in the UK. All the signs are that this is exactly what will happen.

Even though the Guardian Media Group is sitting on a surprisingly large pile of [pound]200m in cash from disposals, mainly of its TV interests, the likely purchase price of more than [pound]700m should prove too rich. Such a large move would have to be approved by the naturally cautious Scott Trust, which ultimately controls GMG.

The other contender, Johnston Press, does not lack the ambition, but Freddie Johnston and chief executive Tim Bowdler have little appetite for overpaying. They lost out to Gannett in the last round of the regional press tour--at Newscom--for precisely that reason. …

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