Rothermere Tables Offer For Daily Mail Stake
Viscount Rothermere is poised to strengthen his stranglehold on the publisher of the Daily Mail by making a formal offer to buy out the remaining voting shares in one of Britain's biggest newspaper groups.
Sky News understands that the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) chairman will move in the coming days to propose a deal to acquire the roughly 11% of the company's voting shares that it does not already own.
An announcement could be made to the London Stock Exchange about the proposed deal as soon as Wednesday, according to people close to the situation.
Viscount Rothermere's move, through Rothermere Continuation Limited (RCL) - effectively a family trust containing assets worth hundreds of millions of pounds - was described last month as "a housekeeping exercise" by insiders.
However, the move has raised eyebrows because although other holders of DMGT stock will be offered a premium to the prevailing share price, the ratio of 112.5 non-voting shares for every 100 voting shares does not represent a particularly generous proposal.
Media analysts said that the offer by Viscount Rothermere was unlikely to affect DMGT's strategy, which has focused on its drive to transform the Daily Mail's digital presence into one of the world's largest online newspaper brands.
In addition to its flagship newspapers, DMGT has acquired a stake in Local World, a regional newspaper publisher into which it folded its own local titles.
The company also owns a sprawling empire of media assets such as online recruitment brand Jobsite, the business information group Euromoney, and Adtech, an event organiser for the marketing industry.
Under the rules of the Takeover Panel, the City watchdog which supervises mergers and acquisitions, RCL was given a deadline of August 23 to make an offer for the rest of the voting shares, suggesting that a move could yet be delayed beyond Wednesday.
Viscount Rothermere has said little about the motivation for his desire to acquire the outstanding voting shares, which left some analysts perplexed because of RCL's already vice-like grip on the company that his family founded in 1896.
Last month, RCL took its stake in the voting stock from 59.2% to 89.2% by buying out the family trust of his uncle, the Esmond Harmsworth 1998 Settlement.
The DMGT chairman's trust is being advised by Rothschild, while the independent directors of the Daily Mail publisher are being advised by Lazard.
A DMGT spokesman declined to comment.