Monday 16 September 2019

Former top Unionist to sell newspaper business south of the Border

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Margaret Canning

THE owner of the Offaly-based 'Tullamore Tribune' and 'Midland Tribune' newspapers has agreed a sale of the titles to Iconic Newspapers, the publisher of the 'Dundalk Democrat', 'Limerick Leader' and the 'Leitrim Observer'.

Regional newspaper group Alpha, led by former Ulster Unionist politician John Taylor, now a member of the House of Lords at Westminster and known as Lord Kilclooney, announced the sale of its two publications in the Republic to Formpress Publishing, a subsidiary of Iconic Newspapers.

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Dungannon-based Alpha Group's remaining titles include the 'Coleraine Chronicle', 'Tyrone Courier' and 'Armagh Gazette', while Iconic owns 15 titles in the Republic.

John Taylor told the 'Belfast Telegraph' that the deal had been made "in principle" but had not yet completed.

And the former MP, MEP and Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly said his advancing age was part of his reason for selling.

"I'm in my 82nd year now, and it's not as hard travelling to Dungannon and Cookstown as it is to Birr and Tullamore."

The deal leaves Alpha with its Northern Ireland assets of 13 regional titles.

Iconic also owns the 'Dundalk Democrat', the 'Echo' and 'Leitrim Observer'. The deal is subject to approval by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in the Republic.

Iconic is controlled by British advertising executive and racehorse owner Malcolm Denmark.

Mr Denmark is the majority shareholder in UK sales house Mediaforce.

Iconic acquired seven titles from River Media last year from Belfast-based Irish News. In 2014, Iconic bought Scotland-based Johnston Press group's 14 Irish regional newspaper titles for approximately €8.5m. Johnston had paid in the region of €300m when it entered the Irish market before the recession.

Irish Independent

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