Analysts cast doubt on Daily Mail/Express merger

Reports that Daily Mail and General Trust held “informal” talks with Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond about buying his newspapers have today been met with a good deal of scepticism from City analysts.

Analysts told the Telegraph that the proposal to buy a paper in decline ran counter to DMGT’s strategy of investing in B2B publishing and the Mail.

Lorna Tilbian, at Numis Securities, told the paper: “The last thing they are going to do is buy the Daily Express. They’ll just steal its readers.”

She then suggested that Trinity Mirror was a more obvious candidate to buy the Express, but said it would struggle to raise the funds for a purchase.

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 Guardian’s media editor Dan Sabbagh was equally sceptical that such a deal was likely to take place, saying instead it seemed like Desmond might be playing a little game.

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