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Newsquest set to win battle for Glasgow Herald titles

LONDON - UK regional newspaper group Newsquest is set to win the battle for Scottish Media Group's newspaper business, which includes the Glasgow-based Herald newspaper, with a £215m bid.

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Newsquest, which is part of the US newspaper group Gannett, outbid Sir Anthony O'Reilly's Independent News & Media, which was the only other bidder left in the race to buy SMG's newspapers.

Newsquest is understood to have increased its bid by £5m to secure the deal, which will give it control of the Herald, Sunday Herald and Glasgow Evening Times.

Independent News & Media, which owns the Independent newspapers in the UK and Ireland, was backed in its bid by venture capital group Providence Equity and decided to bid no more than £210m.

The only other bid that had still been in the race was from the Barclay brothers, who own Edinburgh-based rivals The Scotsman and Scotland On Sunday newspapers. However, SMG decided to eliminate this bid from the running for fear that it would run into competition problems and be blocked, despite the brothers bidding as much as £225m -- making it the highest of all bids made.

SMG is keen to ensure a quick sale and use the cash raised from the sale to help clear some of its £400m debts.

Other bidders in the race have included David Montgomery, the former chief executive of Mirror Group newspapers, along with the Guardian Media Group, Johnston Press, Associated Newspapers and venture capitalists Candover, Cinven and Permira.

Gannett, which owns USA Today, will add the titles to its growing UK newspaper business, comprising 300 weeklies and 15 regional dailies such as The Oxford Mail, The Northern Echo and The Argus in Brighton.

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