Trinity Mirror today announced the sale of the Racing Post, but called off the sale of its regional newspapers in the Midlands and the South East after receiving lower-than-expected bids.
FL Partners, an Irish private equity group fronted by former Racing Post editor Alan Byrne, bought Trinty Mirror Sports Division for £170 million, below the original asking price.
Byrne was appointed chief executive and editor-in-chief of the paper with immediate effect. The principles of FL Partners, Peter Crowley and Neill Hughes, will be joint chairmen of the Racing Post.
Trinity Mirror made donations totalling £10 million to four charities connected to the horse racing industry, a condition of the sale required by Racing Post founder Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who retains the title’s trade mark.
Meanwhile, plans to sell regional newspapers in the Midlands and the South East were shelved after Trinity Mirror received lower offers than expected.
In a statement this morning, the company said ‘offers received for some of the group’s assets did not reflect the Board’s assessment of their true value, their earnings potential or the strong positions they hold in their particular markets.”
Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey said: ‘Throughout this process we made it clear that we were not prepared to sell our high quality media assets at any price. It is clear to us that offers for the businesses we are retaining in the Midlands and the South East did not reflect their true value.”
Following a four-month strategic review last year Trinity announced in December it was to sell off the regional titles and the Racing Post in order to invest in its national titles and digital operations.
In July the company agreed to sell its titles in the South East to Northcliffe Media for £64 million and to sell its Berkshire Regional Newspapers stable to Berkshire Media Group, a subsidiary of The Dumfermline Press, for £10 million
The following month, the company announced it was to sell 27 South London papers, North London and Herts Newspapers and the Yellow Advertiser to Tindle Newspapers for £18.75 million.
The Racing Post sale, along with the sale of its other regional titles, will raise a total of £263 million for Trinity Mirror. The company said it intends to return any surplus capital rising from the sale to shareholders.