Richard Desmond has opened the books of his newspaper and magazine business as it progresses towards a sale, City A.M. understands.
Former News of the World editor David Montgomery is leading on a planned takeover deal for the business, with the backing of several investors secured in principle.
City A.M. has learned that hedge fund Artefact Partners is among the potential investors waiting on a due diligence report on Express Newspapers.
Accountancy firm BDO is expected to release its due diligence report to the backers lined up by Montgomery, including publisher Trinity Mirror, within the next couple of weeks.
Sources told City A.M. that investors would then be likely confirm or withdraw their interest within six weeks.
It emerged in January this year that Montgomery and Trinity Mirror were plotting a takeover of Express Newspapers.
This came after Montgomery registered a company called National World.
Montgomery’s former venture, Local World, teamed up with Trinity to acquire DMGT’s Northcliffe Media regional newspapers in 2012. This venture was also backed by Artefact Partners.
Earlier this year, Montgomery appointed former Local World executive Lisa Gordon as a director of National World.
The parties are aiming to acquire all of Desmond’s print titles: the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, as well as magazines OK, New and Star.
In addition to BDO, law firm Cooley is advising the buyside, as is Bank of Ireland, which led the pitch process.