21 November 2012: The shareholders of Yattendon Group Plc today announced the sale of Iliffe News & Media to Local World, a newly formed media group created from the newspapers and websites of Iliffe News & Media and of Northcliffe, the regional publishing arm of Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT). The Yattendon shareholders will receive a 21.3% shareholding in Local World, becoming the second largest shareholder after DMGT.
Trinity Mirror will also acquire a 20% shareholding in Local World and the remaining Local World shares will be purchased by other investors including Artefact Group, an Investment Fund associated with Lord Ashcroft and Odey Asset Management.
David Montgomery, one of the most experienced media executives in the UK, will be Chairman of Local World. Steve Auckland, formerly Managing Director of Metro, Yorkshire Post Newspapers and Northcliffe Media, will be Group Chief Executive. Rachel Addison, currently Chief Financial Officer of Northcliffe, will assume the same role at Local World. They will be supported by a management team drawn from Iliffe News & Media and Northcliffe Media.
Yattendon Group’s CEO, Edward Iliffe and COO, Lisa Gordon, will both join the Board of Local World, alongside representatives from other shareholders.
The Local World management team will act on ambitious plans to transform the business. The new business aims to build on leading regional media titles, with strong audience loyalty in local communities, and expand Local World’s digital presence with the investment of £10 million.
The new investment and the combination of Northcliffe and Iliffe titles will create a strong media business dedicated to the provision of first-class local content and advertising sales solutions. Local World will harness its proven publishing capabilities with new technologies to provide audiences – both print-readers and online consumers – with high quality, reliable and useful content in whatever format they choose. These plans and the substantial investment reflect the confidence of Local World’s shareholders in the future of local media.
Market leading brands
The combined product portfolio of 63 local portal websites has a monthly audience of over seven million unique users. The print business includes 16 daily titles, 36 paid weeklies, 40 free weeklies, two Metro franchises and a number of niche products including magazines. Famous brands include the Cambridge Evening News, Leicester Mercury and Hull Daily Mail. The combined print portfolio has a weekly reach of six million people.
First class local content and sales
Local World has a vision to create comprehensive content for local communities and provide a range of solutions for advertisers to reach a local audience. The business will focus on the provision of content across multiple platforms, targeting opportunities for both digital audience and revenue growth. Print products will remain a prestigious part of the portfolio, complementing the digital offering.
Local World will meet strong demand for local content and commerce. Research conducted in 2011 by NS, the industry body, has shown that people continue to spend most of their time and money locally, that local media is the best way for brands to take advantage of the new ‘rise of local’ and that people act on local advertising.
The research revealed that:
Digital audience growth
Local World is committed to accelerating digital audience growth with the provision of rich online content, including relevant local news, information, entertainment and advertising. The overall audience for Local World’s outlets is expected to grow as increased focus is placed on digital distribution, with editorial resources devoted to increasing online traffic.
The new company, which will rely on digital for 8.4% of total revenue and 11.2% of advertising revenue at launch, aims to more than double its digital revenues to 20% of the total. A stronger digital offering will attract a younger audience, which will strengthen the overall offering to advertisers.
Local World aims to increase revenues by driving daily audience growth through enriched content. The investment Local World is making in audience measurement and profiling systems will enable it to create targeted and effective advertising solutions that deliver measurable results for local businesses.
New operating practices
A number of new innovative working practices will be put in place to help transform the business. Technology developments will enable better audience targeting for advertisers and e-commerce across all platforms. Increased use of remote working for staff and use of contributors will enhance online products.
Lisa Gordon, Chief Operating Officer, Yattendon Group Plc, said: “The Iliffe family has owned and published newspapers for more than 120 years and are great believers in the ongoing demand for valued local content. We have a shared vision with Local World about the long term opportunities for local media and the need to adapt in a rapidly changing media landscape. The commitment of our long-held assets to this venture reflects our belief in the strategy being adopted by David Montgomery, Steve Auckland, Local World management and shareholders.”
Olswang LLP is acting as sole legal adviser to Yattendon Group Plc on this transaction.
For further information
Yattendon Group Plc
Edward Iliffe, Chief Executive
Lisa Gordon, Chief Operating Officer