Paul Zwillenberg, the new chief executive of The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) has told city analysts that The Daily Mail could be sold if the price was right.
Zwillenberg said: “There are no sacred cows. We are, have been, and continue to be an active portfolio manager. If someone values our business significantly greater than we value it ourselves we will listen.”
Zwillenberg continued: “When we look at our businesses we recognise that fundamentally some have more potential than others. There are some businesses where we are the best owner and others that we may not be. We are not a forced seller of any assets. We will sell when the time is right when [individual] businesses are worth more to other people than to us.”
However, while Zwillenberg is happy to be seen playing fast and loose with DMGT’s flagship brand, the analysts aren’t buying it.
Alex DeGroote, analyst at Peel Hunt told journalists: “A sale of the Daily Mail is a very low probability outcome of the strategic review. It is part of the DNA of the group and it is not performing that badly.”
It should also be remembered The Daily Mail brand is a core component of the DMGT operation having been founded by the group’s current chairman Lord Rothermere’s great-grandfather in 1896. The Rothermere family retain a controlling shareholding in the group and will undoubtedly have affection for the title beyond its commercial value.
DeGroote believes that DMGT’s former interest in acquiring Yahoo to bolster the Mail Online’s global reach (with a particular focus in the US).
DeGroote told journalists: “The Yahoo move tells you where their thinking is at. It means they could be open to partnering with a US internet property to create more scale. It is the only way they are going to crack it. They have a foothold but need to scale up.”
The Mail Online’s US operation saw revenues climb 24 percent on the previous year to £24 million.