This company is owned by Richard Desmond and publishes the Express newspapers, the Daily Star, OK! magazine and a series of top-shelf magazines. It also runs the adult-entertainment channel Fantasy TV. Desmond paid £125m for the newspapers in late 2000 and has since increased circulation and turned a profit by cutting staff and focusing on celebrity news. Northern & Shell reported sales of £348m in 2002 – these exclude sales from joint ventures such as West Ferry Printers that add a further £40m. Desmond paid himself £21m, which reduced operating profits to £7m. The results are especially good at a time when rivals have unveiled disappointing figures and vindicate Desmond’s hardnosed decision to buy Express Newspapers. The £125m loan had been cut to £77m by 2001 and the company is now thought to owe only £32m.
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