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December 9, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:51am

Lord Rothermere splits off i and New Scientist from Mail and Metro in new Harmsworth Media division

By Bron Maher

Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere has announced the creation of Harmsworth Media, a new division of Daily Mail and General Trust that will house its two most recently-acquired publications, the i and New Scientist.

The new entity will have as its chief executive Nina Wright, currently chief executive of the New Scientist, with current i chief executive Richard Thomson as her deputy.

Oly Duff, the i’s editor-in-chief, will also be on Harmsworth Media’s board.

Harmsworth is the family name of the Rothermeres, as well as of Lord Northcliffe, the press lord who founded DMGT in 1922.

The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and freesheet Metro — all DMGT originals — remain part of its existing media division, DMG Media.

Rothermere said Wright “is a highly regarded media professional with institutional knowledge and experience in subscription revenues… particularly skilled at creating dynamic strategies that deliver accelerated growth.”

According to the i, Rothermere said the creation of Harmsworth Media was “a very exciting step for the wider company and an important part of our strategy to diversify revenues and accelerate growth”.

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The i reported that it was itself “already managed as a separate business and exercises complete editorial independence. The latest move strengthens that arrangement”.

Rothermere said that Harmsworth Media “will be active in developing scalable and sustainable new products and in making targeted acquisitions”.

DMGT bought the i from JPI Media in November 2019 for £49.6m, although the takeover was not finalised until March the next year once regulator Ofcom had determined that it would not damage media plurality. The company pledged at the time to ensure the editorial independence of the i was preserved.

The company has invested significantly in the i, having funded the creation earlier this year of at least 20 new journalist roles.

DMGT bought the New Scientist for £70m in March this year.

Announcement of the new division comes on the back of an eventful few months for DMGT. After 89 years on the London Stock Exchange, in November Lord Rothermere offered DMGT’s shareholders more than £3bn collectively so he could take the company private. The offer was upped by almost 6% last week after some shareholders complained the company had been undervalued — meaning a price increase  of approximately £180m.

November also saw the departure of Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig after three years at the helm, the installation of Mail on Sunday editor Ted Verity as editor of both the daily and Sunday titles, and the surprise resignation last week of Martin Clarke, who cultivated Mail Online into one of the most-read English language websites in the world.

To top it off, Property Week reported last week that DMGT would be temporarily deserting its High Street Kensington home of three decades, Northcliffe House, because of refurbishments due to take place between 2022 and 2024. The building will be rebranded the Barkers Building, dropping the name of the Mail founder in favour of the department store originally located on the site.

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