For regional press chief doom-mongers, Enders Analysis, the sale of GMG Regional Media for £7.4m is a “win, win”.
Douglas McCabe of Enders is quoted on page two of today’s Guardian: saying: “Trinity Mirror gets the benefits of synergies and cost savings in the north-west and south. GMG gets an opportunity to focus on its core business.”
But Lorna Tilbian, the eminent media analyst at Numis, told the Daily Telegraph this was the “deal of the decade” for Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey.
Analysts told the Financial Times that the deal is a “fantastic” one for Trinity.
Paul Gooden, analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland, told the FT: “The disposal price of £44.7m looks very low, particularly as only a small proportion of it is cash.”
Another un-named analyst told the paper: “Trinity are known as the best cost-cutters in this market and GMG Regional has an inefficient cost structure.”
Ian King, writing in The Times, notes that the MEN has every bit as a distinguished a record as The Guardian itself. Once Britain’s biggest and most influential regional newspaper, it was a vocal critic of Hitler in the run up the Second World War – he notes.
He writes: “In recent years, hit by The Guardian‘s need to cut costs and the structural decline of the regional press, the paper has struggled. It was not helped by a confusing distribution system, which included giving the paper away on certain days of the week and selling it on others.
“It was an undignified way to treat a distinguished newspaper. A takeover by Trinity Mirror is no panacea. However, for many MEN staffers, the new owners could scarcely be worse than the old ones.”
David Prosser at The Independent says the deal “yet another indication of” GMG’s “determination to bet the house on all things digital”.
He says: “It has sold a profitable group of local newspapers (albeit with profitability in decline) in order to subsidise its loss-making national newspaper division, which is obsessed with the idea of a multimedia future and, specifically, the view that charging for online content is the wrong way to proceed.”
Crticising GMG’s heavy investment in an online future which has yet to turn a profit for The Guardian he says: “the media group can only go on selling off the family silver in order to finance unprofitable new adventures for so long”.