Desmond puts magazines up for sale

Richard Desmond, the founder and owner of Northern & Shell, has put its magazine titles up for sale, including his flagship celebrity-led monthly OK! Magazine.

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Media Week can reveal that Desmond has employed investment bank Barclays Capital to oversee the sale of Northern & Shell's magazine titles, in the UK and overseas.

A confidential Barclays Capital presentation details the proposed sale of the UK and all international editions of OK!, as well as UK publications Star and New! magazine.

It reveals that OK! Magazine in the UK made a profit of around £20m last year.

In the latest set of six-monthly magazine circulation figures from ABC, OK! magazine's circulation was down 23.4% year on year to 450,946 in a quiet period for big celebrity stories.

OK! is published, under licence in some cases, in 21 countries including India, Spain, Russia, Turkey and the US.

It is thought that Desmond is trying to sell the US edition of OK! separately from the other editions. The US edition of OK!, which launched in 2005, is thought to be heavily loss-making.

Star's circulation was down 12.5% year on year to 430,324 copies and New!'s was down 6.4% year on year to 562,284 copies.

Disposals would transform Desmond's media empire for the second time within a year after he spent £103.5m on buying commercial TV broadcaster Five in July.

Desmond was unavailable for comment.

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