Trinity Mirror strikes deal to buy Daily Express and Daily Star; Richard Desmond to step back

The publisher of the Daily Mirror newspaper has struck a deal to buy billionaire Richard Desmond's media assets, including the Daily Express.

The move marks a major shake-up of Britain's media landscape, and here we answer the big questions surrounding the deal.

What does the deal look like?

Trinity Mirror will pay £126.7m (€143.8m) to buy a string of titles from Northern & Shell, including the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, as well as three celebrity magazines, OK!, New!, and Star.

It will also pick up Northern & Shell's 50% joint venture interest in the Irish Daily Star, alongside a print plant in Luton.

Once complete, the deal will see Trinity become a British media powerhouse.

It already owns titles such as the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, Daily Record and Sunday Mail, plus more than 200 local newspapers, including the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Mail and Bristol Post.

Why now?

More and more people are reading their news online rather than in printed form, so advertisers have also increasingly shifted their focus and budgets to websites.

As newspaper circulations have shrunk, so has print advertising as a revenue stream, leading to more investment in online operations across the industry.

To illustrate the point, the Express.co.uk and Dailystar.co.uk websites achieved 280 million page views in December 2017 compared with 649 million for the Trinity Mirror websites.

But the industry is also divided between publishers who think charging readers for online content is the way to go, and those that favour giving it away for free.

Consolidation is also another way to combat declining advertising revenue, with the Trinity deal set to herald cost savings of £20m (€22.7m) a year by 2020 and a shared cut of a larger advertising pool.

The deal is likely to mean job cuts.

What about the political aspects of the deal?

A tie-up between the left-leaning Mirror and the Brexit-backing Express has raised eyebrows, but Trinity boss Simon Fox has signalled that the newspaper's respective editorial positions will not change overnight.

Whilst acknowledging the two businesses have different editorial positions, Mr Fox said these "will be retained".

What now for Richard Desmond?

The deal will see the conclusion of billionaire Richard Desmond's 17 years of newspaper ownership.

The tycoon acquired the Express titles in 2000 for £125m (€141m), after which he added Channel 5 to his stable of media assets.

In 2015, he offloaded Channel 5 to MTV owner Viacom for £463m (€525m), with Northern & Shell booking a handsome £359m (€407m) profit on the sale.

Mr Desmond also owns and operates the British Health Lottery, which aims to raise funds for good causes, and it has been reported that he may be looking to win the licence to run the UK's National Lottery.

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