Trinity Mirror, the national company that owns The Birmingham Post and its sister papers, has bought a group of regional newspapers – including the Manchester Evening News – in a deal worth £44.8 million.
Trinity bought the GMG Regional Media group – the regional newspaper division of the company that owns The Guardian – in a move it said would "complement the group’s existing portfolio and marketplaces".
GMG Regional Media, which publishes 32 newspapers and associated websites, is formed of two operating businesses: MEN Media and S&B Media. MEN Media publishes 22 titles in the North West of England, including the flagship Manchester Evening News and Metro.
S&B Media publishes 10 titles in the South of England, including the Surrey Advertiser and Reading Post. Trinity Mirror will not be acquiring Channel M, the TV station for Greater Manchester and the two local newspapers in Woking.
The assets of GMG Regional are worth a total of about £8.7 million. The deal is set to go through on March 28, and will be made up of £7.4 million cash, with the remainder made up by the release of a long-term printing contract.
Sly Bailey, the chief executive of Trinity Mirror, said: "GMG Regional Media is a perfect strategic fit for our group. This acquisition, which includes the Manchester Evening News with its proud and rich journalistic heritage, together with the weekly titles and associated websites extends our reach across print and online and is a further step towards our strategic goal of creating a multi-media business of real scale."
Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of Guardian Media Group, added: "GMG is mandated to secure the future of the Guardian in perpetuity, and we have a strong portfolio which has to be in the right shape to achieve that goal.
"The group board and the Scott Trust have made the decision to sell in light of these strategic objectives. GMG Regional Media is a good business and a publisher of important newspapers.
"However, we believe Trinity Mirror, as the UK’s biggest regional publisher, is best placed to develop this business. This is an agreement that delivers real value for both parties."