Rothermere tightens his grip on Daily Mail firm with share swap

VISCOUNT Rothermere moved closer to taking full control of the company behind the Daily Mail newspaper yesterday, buying 29.3 per cent of the firm’s voting shares.

Jonathan Harmsworth, whose great grandfather, the first Viscount Rothermere, started the newspaper in the 19th century, brought his share of Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT)’s voting stock up from 59.9 per cent to 89.2 per cent with the move.

Rothermere, who is also DMGT’s chairman, took control of his new shares from Esmond Harmsworth 1998 Settlement, a trust owned by his relatives, although rather than pay for the shares, he has swapped non-voting stock for them, paying a 12.5 per cent premium.

DMGT – which owns the Mail newspapers, the Metro, a stake in the Evening Standard and a growing business and events unit – also said that Rothermere is looking to take control of the remaining voting shares he does not own, at the same premium.

The company’s 20m voting shares account for just a fraction of the company’s total stock, a structure that saw DMGT leave the FTSE index under new 2012’s new rules.