Regional publisher Northcliffe Media, which owns ThisisSouthWales and The South Wales Evening Post, is to be sold to create a new media business.
Local World, created from the newspapers and websites of Northcliffe Media and Iliffe News & Media, launches today.
The group says Local World intends to "transform regional publishing to create a one-stop shop for local content to serve the community and business in every aspect of life."
David Montgomery will be chairman of Local World, and Steve Auckland, formerly Managing Director of Metro, Yorkshire Post Newspapers and Northcliffe Media, will be group chief executive.
Rachel Addison, currently Chief Financial Officer of Northcliffe, will assume the same role at Local World. They will be supported by a management team drawn from Northcliffe Media and Iliffe News & Media.
Announcing the new venture, David Montgomery said: “This is an entirely new type of media business. The value of Local World will lie in its people, its franchises and its IP.
"It will be unencumbered by the infrastructure of the industrial past such as property, printing presses and large scale distribution or any legacy issues such as high levels of debt. Local World signals the fight back in Britain’s regional media industry.”
The management team led by Montgomery, a former Chief Executive of publishers Mecom and Mirror Group, intends to re-invigorate local newspaper publishing and the digital distribution of local content. The new business aims to build on leading regional media titles, with strong audience loyalty in local communities, and expand Local World’s digital presence with the investment of £10 million.
In a statement released this morning, the group say the new investment and the combination of Northcliffe and Iliffe titles "will create a strong media business dedicated to the provision of first-class local content and advertising sales solutions."
The combined product portfolio of 63 local portal websites has a monthly audience of over seven million unique users.
The print business includes 16 daily titles, 36 paid weeklies, 40 free weeklies, two Metro franchises and a number of niche products including magazines. Famous brands include the Cambridge Evening News, Leicester Mercury and Hull Daily Mail. The combined print portfolio has a weekly reach of six million people.
Citing his experience at Mecom, where subsidiary Edda Media in Norway derived a quarter of advertising revenue from online and enjoyed digital traffic almost matching daily print circulation, Montgomery said: “Demand for local content remains as high as it has ever been.
"The correct strategic approach can transform a local media business focused on that opportunity. We look forward to satisfying this continuing demand and monetising our strategy.”
Incoming Group CEO Steve Auckland added: “Local World is a new beginning with a team dedicated to growing the local markets they serve.
"Our plans give us a real opportunity to produce a business that is positive, engaging and a pleasure to work with. This takes time, dedication and brilliant execution, and is somewhere everyone in media would want to work.”
International merchant bank Lepe Partners LLP has acted throughout as sole financial adviser to Local World in relation to the transaction.