The UK’s biggest newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror has revealed plans to sell several of its internet operations and slash online investment.

The group plans to scale back its web presence to a digital content network supporting its main regional and national newspaper titles. Raising the performance of these publications will, announced the group, be the main focus of its future activities.

Among the online assets due for disposal are Trinity’s ISP ic24, its business magazines and exhibitions unit and its stake in news and betting service, a joint venture with the Press Association. The sales are expected to raise around £80m, which the company will use to reduce its debt.

As well as jettisoning internet assets, the group also plans a U-turn on digital investment, slashing from £150m to £90m the present budget for online ventures.

The announcement came as Trinity Mirror posted a 12% rise in underlying profits for 2000 (excluding digital costs). Turnover rose from £1.06 billion in 1999 to £1.08bn, while operating profits fell from £221.1m to £201.4m after online expenses.

Despite the decision to sell the assets, chief executive Philip Graf justified the launch costs of the ic24 network, insisting: “We never saw it as a revenue generator. It was a means to establishing a brand.”

News source: Financial Times