Exponent enters Trinity auction

Exponent Private Equity, a private equity firm founded by former 3i senior executives, is leading the race for Trinity Mirror’s Midlands newspapers, which have an estimated valued of circa €290m.

Barclays Private Equity and ABN Amro Private Equity are also thought to be among second round bidders for Trinity Mirror’s Midlands newspapers

Exponent confirmed to IFR Buyouts that it has submitted an offer for the regional publications, which include the Birmingham Post and the Coventry Evening Telegraph. Several other potential bidders have also previously shown interest, including Sir Digby Jones, former director-general of the CBI, and local businessman and newspaper owner Chris Bullivant.

Exponent, which was founded in 2004 by four former 3i directors, is also competing in a separate auction for Trinity Mirror’s Racing Post title, which could fetch up to £200m. The outcome of this auction is expected at any time.

The firm made its first acquisition in October 2005 when it bought the Times Educational Supplement and related titles from News International.

Chris Bullivant, the regional newspaper owner and Sir Digby Jones, the former director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, are also thought to be bidding for the Midlands newspapers

Some private equity executives are surprised at the level of interest from financial suitors, given that the Midland newspapers would require investment.