Myners: Ex-Minister Courted For Tabloid Role

Mark Kleinman, City Editor
Myners: Ex-Minister Courted For Tabloid Role

Lord Myners, former chairman of The Guardian's parent company, has been approached about chairing a new venture that is targeting a foothold in Britain’s cut-throat tabloid newspaper market.

I understand that the board of Phoenix Newspaper Publishing has sounded out Lord Myners about chairing the company, which is in talks with Trinity Mirror about a deal to take control of the Sunday People.

Friends of Lord Myners said that he was "flattered" by the interest from Phoenix but suggested that he was likely to reject the invitation to chair the company.

A City Minister in the last Labour administration, Lord Myners has rebuilt an extensive boardroom career since the 2010 general election.

He is a non-executive director of MegaFon, the London-listed Russian telecoms group, and chairman of the UK activities of Cevian Capital, a well-known activist shareholder.

Among the companies where he has previously held directorships are Land Securities, the property company, and Marks & Spencer.

Phoenix has been trying for more than a year to raise millions of pounds in funding to support the development of a new tabloid title that would target the vacuum left by the demise of the News Of The World.

Dozens of potential investors have been approached about putting money into the vehicle, and insiders say that Phoenix is optimistic that it will secure the necessary backing in the coming months.

The executives behind the venture, who include Sue Douglas, the former Sunday Express editor, and Rupert Howell, the former ITV commercial director, plan to relaunch Trinity Mirror’s title as News of the People.

They believe there is an opportunity to pick up many of the estimated 1.3m News Of The World customers who stopped buying a Sunday newspaper when News International closed it during the phone-hacking scandal in 2011.

Last month, Trinity Mirror confirmed the talks with Phoenix, saying: "Trinity Mirror plc confirms that it has been approached by a group of investors who have expressed an interest in working with the Group to invest in and develop the Sunday People.

"Discussions are at a very preliminary stage and there is nothing further to report. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate."

Phoenix and Lord Myners both declined to comment.