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Trinity Mirror’s audacious £200m buyout of Richard Desmond’s Express and Star stable has hit a bump in the road after the competition regulator and culture secretary announced a probe into the deal.

Concerns have been expressed about a reduction in media plurality should Trinity Mirror wrest control of a suite of titles including The Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday as well as celebrity gossip title OK!

These fears have convinced the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate whether the tie-up would spark a ‘substantial lessening of competition’ in national newspaper or advertising sales, to the detriment of the wider public.

Adding to Trinity Mirror’s woes culture secretary Matt Hancock will also now be involved in passing judgement after the CMA decreed the proposed merger raised ‘public interest considerations’, with the possibility that he could invite Ofcom to look in detail at the case.

Mindful of these concerns Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox has repeatedly stressed that the Express titles will maintain their editorial independence, adding the combined reach of the new business would still fall below that of The Sun.

The CMA must decide whether this is the case by 7 June, at which point it could mount a full-blown inquiry.

Trinity Mirror is in process of rebranding as Reach to reflect its new found scale.