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The Daily Mail’s founding family is plotting an offer to take the company behind Britain’s biggest-selling national newspaper private – move that would end 90 years of stock market history.

Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) confirmed Sky News’ exclusive revelation on Monday that Rothermere Continuation Limited (RCL) is considering an £810m bid for the shares in the company that it does not already own.

A formal bid from RCL, a trust which invests on behalf of the family of Lord Rothermere, DMGT’s chairman, is conditional on the sale of the group’s insurance risk arm.

The cash proceeds of that sale – 610p-per-share – would be distributed to DMGT shareholders, along with the company’s 16% stake in Cazoo, a used-car marketplace which is in the process of listing in New York through a merger with a ‘blank cheque’ company.

That would leave RCL offering 210p-per-share to DMGT’s shareholders for the roughly 65% of the company that the Rothermere family does not currently own.

“If the Possible Offer is made and becomes or is declared unconditional, it is expected that DMGT would cease to be listed in due course and re-registered as a private company,” DMGT said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

Taking the Daily Mail’s owner private would bring the curtain down on nearly nine decades as a public company.

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DMGT floated in 1932, a decade after it was formed to manage the family’s interests.

It has accelerated its reshaping in recent years, selling a 50% stake in Euromoney, the business-to-business publisher, and other assets including a stake in Zoopla, the online property portal.

The Daily Mail last year became the UK’s biggest-selling national daily newspaper for the first time in its 124-year history.

Its online equivalent, MailOnline, is now one of the world’s most-visited news websites.

It was unclear on Monday how RCL would fund its potential bid to take DMGT private, or who the suitor was for its insurance risk arm.

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Blackstone tunes up £1.2bn bid for Blondie music owner Hipgnosis

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Blackstone tunes up £1.2bn bid for Blondie music owner Hipgnosis

The private equity titan Blackstone is this weekend drawing up plans for a £1.2bn takeover bid for the owner of songs performed by Blondie, the Kaiser Chiefs and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Sky News can exclusively reveal that Blackstone has already tabled several offers to buy Hipgnosis Songs Fund (HSF), the London-listed music rights investment company.

The first was worth 82p-a-share, insiders said, while another was pitched at 88p and the most recent was worth marginally less than a 93.2p-a-share bid for HSF unveiled on Thursday from Concord Chorus, a music and theatrical rights company.

Sources said that Blackstone, which is being advised by investment bankers at Jefferies, was now considering making a higher offer for HSF, which trades on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker SONG.

One added that Blackstone had been “surprised” by the announcement this week that SONG’s board had recommended the bid from Concord Chorus – which is backed by Apollo Global Management – given its own ongoing conversations about an offer.

The person also questioned HSF’s decision to recommend a proposal “at the start of a bidding war, without attempting to extract greater value for shareholders”.

A source close to HSF disputed that characterisation.

A takeover of the company would crystallise value for Hipgnosis shareholders, who saw the shares slump to a record low in March of about 56p in the wake of a reduction in the value of its portfolio and a suspension of dividend payments.

HSF’s troubles have been played out for months in the public arena, culminating last October in a decision by shareholders to reject its board’s goal of securing their backing for its continuation.

Shakira performs with Bizarrap during the the first weekend of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on Friday, April 12, 2024, in Indio, Calif. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
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Shakira. Pic: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

The company has been mired in bitter recriminations and legal arguments over its performance and governance.

A review conducted by Shot Tower Capital, a specialist adviser, concluded in March that SONG’s assets were worth a fifth less than Hipgnosis Song Management (HSM), its investment adviser, had reported last September.

Blackstone is already deeply immersed in HSF’s future because it owns a 51% stake in HSM, which has a contract to manage the SONG assets.

If HSM agreed to terminate the contract between them, it would release up to $25m for HSF although analysts say it is unclear why HSM would willingly forego any cash it believes is owed to it.

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One of the obstacles facing Blackstone in any new offer lies in the fact that the SONG board has received irrevocable acceptances of the Concord Chorus bid from over 23% of shareholders.

Those only fall away in the event that a rival bidder tables an offer worth at least 10% more – in this case over 102p-a-share.

However, HSM also has a call option in its management agreement with HSF which allows it to acquire the portfolio of music assets even if Concord Chorus is successful, at the same price it pays.

The call option is understood to evaporate if the management contract is terminated for cause.

The legal disputes involving the companies, which insiders have left the situation finely balanced, with a possible compromise agreement between them also being floated by investors.

A source close to Blackstone said it was very confident in its contractual position.

Artists whose catalogues are owned by the listed company also include Neil Young and Mark Ronson.

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The remainder of HSM is owned by Merck Mercuriadis, a former manager of Beyonce and Sir Elton John, who launched Hipgnosis in 2018 with the aim of turning music royalties into a mainstream asset class.

He struck a $1bn deal three years later for Blackstone to provide firepower for buying music rights and managing catalogues.

Since then, some of the world’s most prominent financiers, including the likes of Apollo and KKR, have developed a similar appetite to buy into music assets.

In February, Mr Mercuriadis moved from becoming CEO of HSM to the chairman’s role, with Ben Katovsky taking over as CEO.

Sources emphasised on Saturday that Blackstone’s interest in acquiring HSF was on a standalone basis and was independent of Mr Mercuriadis.

That stance is likely to raise questions about the buyout giant’s ongoing relationship with the Hipgnosis founder.

Blackstone is one of the world’s most powerful investors, with hundreds of billions of dollars of ‘dry powder’ available for investment.

When its alliance with Mr Mercuriadis was unveiled two-and-a-half years ago, Qasim Abbas, a senior managing director in Blackstone’s tactical opportunities team, said: “This partnership underscores the long-term, sustainable value we see in creative content across the wider entertainment industry.

“The music industry has been at the forefront of the fast-growing streaming economy and is unlocking new ways of consuming content.”

Shares in HSF closed on Friday at 91.9p, giving it a market capitalisation of just over £1.1bn and marginally below the level of the recommended offer from Concord Chorus.

On Saturday, Blackstone and HSF both declined to comment.

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Grocery delivery app Getir prepares to exit UK market

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Grocery delivery app Getir prepares to exit UK market

Getir, the grocery delivery app once valued at nearly $12bn (£9.7bn), is close to pulling the plug on its operations in Britain in a move that would spark concerns for well over 1,000 jobs.

Sky News has learnt that Getir is preparing to announce next week that it is withdrawing from the three remaining European markets in which it operates: the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

In total, thousands of jobs will be put at risk, including approximately 1,500 in the UK, according to people close to the situation.

The process through which Getir, which has a multimillion-pound commercial partnership with the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur, plans to exit the UK was unclear on Friday.

Insiders said, that it could involve a sale of its assets or an insolvency procedure although they added that no decisions had been taken.

Getir has previously denied that any form of insolvency was on the cards for the group or its subsidiaries.

The company is understood to have drafted in restructuring advisers in recent days, while Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi fund that is one of its biggest shareholders, is being advised by AlixPartners.

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Dejan Kulusevski of Tottenham Hotspur during trainin.
Pic: Alex Morton/Tottenham Hotspur FC/Shutterstock
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Getir sponsor Tottenham Hotspur’s training kit. Pic: Alex Morton/Tottenham Hotspur FC/Shutterstock

Getir’s plans to exit the UK and other markets will leave it with operations in the US and Turkey only.

Ultimately, it is expected to seek to operate solely in Turkey, where it was founded.

Meaning ‘to bring’ in Turkish, Getir expanded at breakneck speed to become of the world’s most valuable fast-delivery platforms.

Earlier this week, Sky News reported that the company was weighing a string of asset sales, including FreshDirect, a US-based online grocer it only acquired late last year, as part of efforts to repair its balance sheet.

Getir was valued at nearly $12bn (£9.7bn) just two years ago, and has sought to acquire a number of rivals which have run into financial trouble.

The company has already pulled out of a number of countries, including Italy and Spain, in an attempt to reduce losses.

Its retreat highlights the slumping valuations of technology companies once-hailed as the new titans of major economies.

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As well as Mubadala, Getir is backed by prominent tech investors including Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global.

The company was one of the hottest start-ups of the pandemic, when financiers rushed to plough billions of dollars into businesses they believed would benefit from structural shifts in the economy.

It raised more than $750m in a funding round in early 2022, but has seen its valuation slump since then.

Last September, Getir also announced a sharp cut in the size of its workforce, axeing roughly 2,500 jobs, or about 10% of its global employee base.

Founded in 2015, Getir was one of a crop of companies promising city-based consumers rapid delivery of groceries and other essential products.

During the COVID crisis, the industry saw sales explode, with emerging trends such as working from home fuelling investor confidence that the boom was sustainable.

Many of its rivals have already gone bust, while others have been swallowed up as part of a desperate wave of consolidation.

Getir itself bought Gorillas in a $1.2bn stock-based deal that closed in December 2022.

“Getir principally doesn’t comment on rumours,” a spokeswoman said on Friday.

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Post Office lawyer ‘takes no pride’ working for the company

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Post Office lawyer 'takes no pride' working for the company

A lawyer for the Post Office at the height of the Horizon IT scandal has told the public inquiry he feels “no pride” to be employed by the company.

Rodric Williams, a civil law specialist who joined the organisation in 2012, told the hearing he was “truly sorry” for being associated with the “greatest miscarriage of justice we’ve seen”.

A first day of evidence for the New Zealand national, now among three legal leads at the Post Office, saw Mr Williams admit a “bunker mentality” among staff in relation to the media’s coverage of the faulty Horizon IT system.

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In his second day, Mr Williams was pressed on what he knew about the Post Office’s ex-head of security John Scott allegedly shredding minutes from a meeting concerning Horizon bugs.

The inquiry heard the Post Office feared sub-postmasters who had been convicted of offences jumping on a “bandwagon” and challenging their convictions if damaging documents surfaced as part of the mediation process.

The word came as part of a 2013 meeting between the Post Office’s in-house and external lawyers, which read: “It was widely agreed that there was likely to be a ‘bandwagon’ approach in relation to defendants challenging their previous convictions.”

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Mr Williams was also accused of knowing “perfectly well” that the Post Office had “relied on a liar and a perjurer to convict innocent people” following expert evidence provided by leading Horizon engineer Gareth Jenkins in the trial of sub-postmistress Seema Misra.

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Seema Misra: It still gives me nightmares

She was suspended from her branch in 2008 and handed a 15-month prison sentence, while eight weeks pregnant, in November 2010 after being accused of stealing £74,000.

The inquiry heard how the Post Office received advice from external barrister Simon Clarke in 2013 suggesting an expert witness, Mr Jenkins, and the Post Office had “breached their duties” to the court, and subsequent advice suggested meeting minutes talking about Horizon bugs had been shredded.

Questioned on his views on the wrongful conviction of Mrs Misra, Mr Williams told the inquiry: “I take no pride, comfort or confidence in having worked for an employer that has engaged in conducting the greatest miscarriage of justice that we’ve seen, or however it has been described.

“I don’t know where to go with this – it’s awful that people with convictions had them, and had them for the length of time that they did.

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Review into Post Office system

“And for my part in that, I’m truly sorry that I’ve been associated with this. I’m truly sorry for that.”

Chairman Sir Wyn Williams interjected: “I think the point, Mr Williams, is at a moment in time, namely 2014, when on any sensible reading of Mr Clarke’s advice from July 2013, there was a problem about Mr Jenkins’s evidence, the Post Office and you personally appeared to still be asserting to the world that the conviction was safe, amongst other things, because expert evidence had been called and the jury, by inference, must have accepted it.

“Those two things don’t sit very easily together, do they?”

Rodric Williams gives evidence to the inquiry. Pic: POHI
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Rodric Williams also gave evidence on Thursday. Pic: POHI

Mr Williams replied: “No, they don’t, sir. No, they don’t.”

Addressing the destruction of meeting minutes in advice given to the organisation, Mr Clarke had written: “An instruction was then given that those emails and minutes should be, and have been, destroyed: the word ‘shredded’ was conveyed to me.”

Counsel to the inquiry Jason Beer KC asked: “Presumably you were quite shocked to read it?”

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Ex-Post Office boss under fire

The Post Office lawyer replied: “Yes.”

Mr Beer later asked: “What steps did you take to ensure that it was investigated in any way whatsoever?”

After the witness said he did not recall, the counsel to the inquiry continued: “Is the answer none?”

Mr Williams replied: “I can’t remember what happened at that time 11 years ago – so what I felt needed to be done or should be done I can’t recall now.”

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Following an interjection by chairman Sir Wyn Williams urging him to answer the question, Mr Beer continued: “Should the serious or very serious matters raised in Mr Clarke’s advice have been investigated by the Post Office?”

The witness said: “Yes.”

Asked if consideration was given to reporting the matter to the police, Mr Williams said: “I don’t believe so, no.”

Mr Beer continued: “Would you have been concerned if you found out that it was said to be the head of security that had given an instruction to shred documents?”

Mr Williams replied: “Yes.”

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