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EDITIONS
 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 18:43 GMT
SMG in newspaper deal
Paul Davidson
Paul Davidson: "An excellent combination"
The Scottish Media Group has reached a deal to sell The Herald and its sister newspapers to US publishing group Gannett.

The 216m deal, which also includes sale of the Sunday Herald and Evening Times, must now be approved by the Competition Commission which is expected to make its decision in March.

SMG owns Scottish and Grampian Television and said it would use the money to reduce its debt.

STV mast
The group wants to focus on broadcast concerns
Chief Executive Andrew Flanagan said: "This is an excellent price, for an excellent business and I'm confident that it will continue to thrive under its new owner."

Gannett, which publishes USA Today, also has a strong presence in the UK, with 15 regional dailies and 200 weekly papers in England in its Newsquest group.

Alongside its newspaper titles, SMG owns 11 business-to-business and specialist consumer magazine titles and an online advertising and content business.

SMG announced in September that it wanted to sell the publishing arm.

The Glasgow-based group wants to focus on its other interests, including Virgin Radio and the Scottish and Grampian ITV franchises.

SMG has suffered from an advertising slump but said it had seen a "modest improvement" in trading in the third quarter and was seeing further progress into the fourth.

'Prestigious titles'

Mr Flanagan said: "Having delivered this transaction, SMG's strategy moves firmly forward with financial flexibility into an important period in the development of the UK communications industry."

Paul Davidson, the chief executive of Newsquest and president of Gannett UK, said: "SMG Publishing's prestigious titles will make an excellent combination with our existing newspaper, printing, magazine and related internet sites.

"The management and employees of SMG Publishing share our commitment to provide quality editorial products to both readers and advertisers in the communities we serve."

See also:

10 Dec 02 | Scotland
21 Nov 02 | Scotland
10 Sep 02 | Scotland
27 Sep 02 | Scotland
21 Jun 02 | Business
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