June 20, 2018 / 12:49 PM / a month ago

UK clears Daily Mirror publisher's takeover of Express titles

LONDON (Reuters) - The publisher of the Daily Mirror was cleared to buy rival tabloids the Daily Express, Daily Star and OK! magazine on Wednesday, with the government saying the deal would not limit the free expression of newspaper opinion.

Trinity Mirror, now called Reach (RCH.L), announced the 127-million-pound takeover in February, bringing together tabloids from opposite ends of the political spectrum in a group it said would be better positioned to cope with advertisers and readers moving online.

Media Secretary Matt Hancock said he accepted regulators’ opinions that the deal did “not give rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition” and did not raise concerns about the range of views and the free expression of opinion in Britain’s newspapers.

Reach’s Chief Executive Simon Fox welcomed the decision.

“Today we are two successful separate news organizations, but together we will be stronger and better able to compete and adapt to the challenging conditions in which we operate,” he said.

The deal adds the daily and Sunday editions of the Express and Star tabloids to Reach’s stable of more than 260 national and regional titles including the Daily Record, the Manchester Evening News, the Liverpool Echo and Birmingham Mail.

The tabloids, and magazines OK!, New! and Star which were also included in the deal, are owned by billionaire Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell.

Desmond will get an 8.6 percent stake in Trinity and 107 million pounds in cash under the terms of the deal.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Stephen Addison and Louise Heavens

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