Tory Peer Ashcroft To Back Newspaper Merger
The former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft is being lined up to invest in a new regional newspaper group alongside Trinity Mirror, owner of the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror.
I have learned that the Peer, who is based in the central American tax haven of Belize, is in discussions about injecting cash into Local World, a vehicle being set up by the former News of the World editor David Montgomery.
Lord Ashcroft, who was made a privy counsellor in the autumn reshuffle of David Cameron's Government, would be likely to invest "a modest sum" in the new venture, which intends to combine the local newspaper assets of Daily Mail & General Trust and Iliffe News and Media.
The terms of an investment by Lord Ashcroft are not yet finalised and Local World may complete its line-up of financial backers without him, according to people close to the situation.
Mr Montgomery has been working on the plan to consolidate Britain's struggling regional newspaper industry for several months.
Sky News revealed on Sunday that the proposals involve the backing of Crispin Odey, the hedge fund tycoon, and Yattendon, the conglomerate headed by Lord Iliffe.
The new vehicle would use the initial transactions as a platform to acquire other regional newspaper assets, people close to it say.
On Monday, Trinity Mirror said that it was in discussions about acquiring an equity stake in the vehicle.
Lord Ashcroft's business interests include a stake in Dods, the political intelligence firm, and BCB Holdings, the parent of a Belize-based financial services company.
A former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Ashcroft is also a prominent donor. His private interests have seen amass the largest collection of Victoria Cross medals in the world.
Nobody involved in Local World was available to comment.