Former Saatchi Nemesis Stalks UK's Top Newspaper Group

13 January 2006

It's sweaty palms time at Trinity Mirror, according to insiders at the UK's largest newspaper group.

It has acquired a new shareholder - Harris Associates, a Chicago-headquartered fund management group with an interventionist record that should make the blood of Sly [Sylvia] Bailey, Trinity's ceo, flow cold.

Within the past two months, Harris has become TM's third largest shareholder, this week increasing its stake to 8.1%. The stock build-up, from just 3% in November, has been masterminded by a name that still sends shivers down the spine of the brothers Saatchi - that of David G Herro, Harris partner and chief investment officer international equity.

Herro it was who in December 1994 vanquished and banished the brothers Saatchi, Maurice and Charles, from the eponymous ad agency they founded.

And Harris is also the third largest shareholder (with an 8.2% stake) in America's second largest newspaper publisher Knight Ridder, whose cheque-writing arm was forced into a hammerlock by principal shareholder Bruce S Sherman with a little extra twisting by Harris [WAMN: 03-Nov-05].

KR accordingly agreed to explore divestment options including an auction of the business.

Like KR and Saatchi & Saatchi in 1994, Trinity Mirror's share price is significantly below par. Among UK media companies with a market capitalisation of over £1bn it is the lowest rated, prompting some analysts to mutter darkly about a break-up of the group.

Newspaper shares, both in the UK and US, have lost value in recent months due to bearish trading statements from national and regional publishers.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff