Daily Mail publisher to delist from stock market after 90 years

Lord Rothermere secures enough support from shareholders to take Daily Mail & General Trust private

Last modified on Thu 16 Dec 2021 10.36 EST

The owner of the Daily Mail will be delisted from the stock market after the controlling shareholder Lord Rothermere won over enough investors to back his bid to take the publisher private.

An investment vehicle run by Jonathan Harmsworth, Viscount Rothermere, announced on Thursday that it had reached agreements to buy enough shares to control 56.7% of Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) – clearing the 50% hurdle he required to win.

Rothermere had until Thursday to gain the backing of enough other shareholders for his buyout offer. The successful deal means the company will exit the London Stock Exchange after 90 years.

The Daily Mail was established in 1896 by Rothermere’s great grandfather. It listed on the stock market in 1932, and in the decades since has added a stable of other newspaper and magazine titles, including the Metro and the i alongside the Mail and the Mail on Sunday.

The Daily Mail last year supplanted Rupert Murdoch’s Sun as the UK’s top-selling newspaper, a title the latter had held since 1978. However, Rothermere is thought to be focused on an increasingly digital future.

The Daily Mail’s website, which has a more celebrity-oriented approach than its print equivalent, is one of the world’s most visited news websites.

Rothermere made his first move in July, with a 251p per share offer. However, he increased the price to 270p per share at the start of the month, valuing the newspaper business at £885m including debt.

The co-founder of DMGT’s largest independent shareholder, Lindsell Train, had on Wednesday indicated his support of the offer, despite the objections of some other large investors who argued Rothermere had valued the company too cheaply.

Majedie Asset Management and JO Hambro Capital Management have previously opposed earlier offers but now face the prospect of either selling up or rejecting it, leaving them with a hard-to-sell minority interest in a private company.

Under stock market rules Rothermere had to make the same offer to all shareholders when trying to gain majority control. Many equity fund managers are not allowed to hold illiquid stakes in private companies, which are also difficult to value.

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