The Daily Mail and General Trust is reported to have held “informal” talks with Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond about buying his newspapers.
Sky News claims that Desmond and DMGT chairman Lord Rothermere discussed the idea earlier this year and that further talks “may be held within the next few weeks”, although “no concrete negotiations” are under way yet.
The future of Express Newspapers has come up in several reports in recent weeks. The Guardian claimed at the end of March that parent company Northern & Shell was open to offers for any of its print assets.
It came after Media Week reported last month that Desmond had hired Barclays Capital to examine the case for selling his magazine business, which includes OK! According to today’s Sunday Times, investment bank Goldman Sachs is also looking at options for the newspaper side of the company.
The possible change of direction follows Desmond’s move into mainstream television with the acquisition of Channel Five last September in a £100m deal.
Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman said in a blog post this evening: “Any deal resulting in the merger of the Express and Mail titles would mark an extraordinary rapprochement between the two proprietors, who for several years fought an almost-daily feud through the pages of their newspapers.
“The two men are now said to get on reasonably well, and I understand both believe that a deal could be in their interests.”
He added: “It’s not clear who initiated the discussion between Desmond and Rothermere (sources in each camp tell me that the other was responsible for doing so).
“To be clear, Desmond may yet choose not to sell his newspapers.”