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Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK

Business: The Company File

DTI clears Mirror takeover bids

Formal bids are now expected for The Mirror

Takeover bids for the Mirror Group by two regional newspaper companies have been given government clearance.

The Department of Trade and Industry has said Trinity and Regional Independent Media (RIM) can go ahead with their bids for the newspaper group, after ruling neither bid was anti-competitive.

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers, publishing the findings of the Competition Commission report into the bids, said neither bid would result in "significant overlaps" of regional and local titles in England and Wales.

But Mr Byers said Trinity would have to let go of its four Northern Ireland titles if it were to buy Mirror, to avoid overlap with the Mirror's Belfast Newsletter and Derry Journal.

Bids expected

The papers Trinity would be required to divest are The Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life, Community Telegraph and Farm Trader.

Mirror has previously rejected takeover approaches from RIM and Trinity, but both are now expected to launch formal bids for the group.

The DTI said a takeover of the national newspaper group would boost Trinity's share of the regional newspaper market to 24%.

RIM's share would be raised to 17.2%

The Competition Commission said there was no threat to the accurate presentation of news and free expression of opinion from either of the possible takeovers "in the light of RIM's and Trinity's policy of editorial independence".

Shares up

Both of the groups have said they intend to maintain The Mirror's "current left-of-centre stance".

Earlier this week, former Mirror Group chief executive David Montgomery appeared to signal his interest in acquiring the group by confirming he was in talks with financiers which "may or may not" lead to an offer.

He is believed to be preparing a £1.3bn ($2bn) bid for the group.

Mirror's shares were up 1.56% to 260.5p after the DTI announcement, while Trinity was unchanged at 580p.

Privately owned RIM is backed by Candover Investments.

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