The owner of the Daily Mail has agreed the sale of its local newspaper arm in a deal that will create a new force in regional publishing with more than 100 titles.
Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) is selling its Northcliffe Media arm for £52.5 million to a new joint venture, called Local World, which will also combine the regional newspaper assets of Iliffe News & Media, which owns the Cambridge News.
Trinity Mirror - owner of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror - will take a 20% stake in Local World for £14.2 million.
The new group - worth around £100 million - will include 16 daily titles, 36 paid weekly titles, 40 free weekly titles and two Metro newspaper franchises. It will also publish a portfolio of 63 local websites, with a monthly audience of more than seven million.
Northcliffe boss Steve Auckland will become chief executive of Local World, with tabloid veteran David Montgomery appointed chairman.
Local World will combine some of the UK's best-known local newspaper titles, including Northcliffe's Leicester Mercury, Bristol Post and Derby Telegraph and Iliffe's Hertfordshire Mercury. It will employ more than 2,800 people, with combined operating profits of £21 million and revenues of £273 million.
DMGT said there would be "very limited" job losses among the 2,300 staff at its Northcliffe arm following the sale to Local World, with expectations that fewer than 100 roles will be cut.
Former Mirror Group Newspapers boss Mr Montgomery said the deal "signals the fightback in Britain's regional media industry".
The deal comes as regional newspapers are struggling amid a prolonged advertising slump, which has forced many groups to axe titles and jobs. But Mr Montgomery said the group will be "unencumbered by the infrastructure of the industrial past such as property, printing presses and large-scale distribution or any legacy issues such as high levels of debt".
Gareth Davies, analyst at Numis Securities, said he expected Trinity Mirror to sell some of its regional newspapers to Local World in future, in return for a stake in the new group.