The owner of the Daily Mail has acquired the i newspaper and website for £49.6m from JPIMedia – an acquisition that will surprise the media industry given the opposing politics of the two titles.
Daily Mail and General Trust said the deal was both "strategically and financially compelling", with scope for "synergies in the future".
The purchase is particularly interesting given the opposing editorial stances of the Daily Mail and i. While the former is pointedly right-wing in its tone of voice, the i takes a more liberal point of view in its editorial style.
Lord Rothermere, chairman of DMGT, insisted the company was committed to the "politically independent editorial style" of the i.
The new ownership will undoubtedly alienate many of the i’s readership – many of whom are of a more liberal bent.
While JPIMedia has been struggling, the i has performed strongly. The title has retail sales of about 170,000 newspapers every weekday and more than 190,000 copies of the i weekend on Saturdays, while inews.co.uk attracts about 300,000 daily unique browsers. In 2018, the i generated £11m in cash operating income from revenue of £34m.
The i won Media Brand of the Year at Campaign’s British Media Awards earlier this year, in spite of the financial turbulence surrounding JPIMedia, formerly known as Johnston Press.
Rothermere said: "We are delighted to welcome the i to our stable of media brands. It is a highly respected publication with a loyal and engaged readership. We are committed to preserving its distinctive, high-quality and politically independent editorial style.
"The acquisition of the i is both strategically and financially compelling for DMGT and there is scope for potential synergies in the future, notably from DMG Media's existing infrastructure and in advertising sales. The business will benefit from DMGT's long-term approach and commitment to investing in editorial content. We also see good opportunities to develop inews.co.uk, a growing digital media asset. Financially, the i will be a strong cash generator for the group as we continue to invest across the portfolio, both organically and through acquisitions."
DMGT said the deal is likely to be reviewed by the Competition & Markets Authority.
Earlier today, Campaign reported that Reach, owner of the Daily Mirror and Manchester Evening News, had ended its pursuit of JPIMedia regional newspaper titles.