OPINION: EDITOR’S COMMENT - Regional power brokers look as hungry as ever

With all the politicking and power-broking in the regional newspaper business at the moment, it seems a lot more Westminster than Warminster or Worcester.

With all the politicking and power-broking in the regional

newspaper business at the moment, it seems a lot more Westminster than

Warminster or Worcester.



In the last fortnight, Campaign Media Business has reported two major

moves in the world of the regional newspaper sales houses. First it

emerged that Trinity Mirror is set to merge its Mirror Group sales team

with sales house Amra. Then Eastern Counties Newspapers admitted it was

preparing to move one of its major sales accounts from Amra to

Clacksons. Clacksons will now sell all of ECN’s titles.



The result of these deals is to leave Amra looking increasingly like an

in-house operation. Although the sales house is still selling for

Chronicle Publications, Isle of Wight County Press and a few Guardian

Media Group titles, one wonders whether Mike McCormack and his troops

will soon be invited to join the happy throng in Canary Wharf.



Perhaps more significantly, the moves will put more than 77 per cent of

the regional newspaper market (by circulation) into the hands of the top

five sales houses.



No-one expects the consolidation to stop there, either. Venture capital

companies crave quick returns and shareholders want to see

acquisitions.



So where would a betting man expect to see the consolidation? On the

sales house side, RIM looks a fine buy, if venture capitalist owner

Candover could be persuaded to sell. And on the newspaper side, South

News looks a tasty morsel for one of the acquisition-hungry groups. But

the only safe bet is that the wheeling and dealing is not over yet.



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