UK Markets open in 7 mins

Tabloid Venture Courts Richard Desmond

(c) Sky News 2012

A group of executives who want to break into Britain's newspaper market have approached the owners of several Sunday tabloids about a possible takeover.

I understand that Phoenix Newspaper Publishing has held preliminary discussions with Northern & Shell, publisher of the Daily Star Sunday, and Mirror Group Newspapers, owner of the People, about buying either title and turning it into a newspaper called The News on Sunday.

Phoenix is understood to be willing to pay around £10m for the Daily Star Sunday. The newspaper's proprietor, Richard Desmond, also owns the Daily and Sunday Express, which was once-edited by Sue Douglas, one of the founders of Phoenix.

The appetite of Mr Desmond to sell the Star's Sunday edition is unclear despite the fact that he last year contemplated selling all of his UK newspaper interests.

Phoenix has discussed acquiring the People, although an imminent sale of that newspaper is unlikely given that Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI.L - news) , its ultimate owner, is yet to appoint a new chief executive.

The fledgling company has also approached the tycoons who own the Independent on Sunday although a deal to buy that is also thought to be a remote prospect.

Phoenix's talks with the established newspaper publishers have ranged from the provision of printing and distribution contracts to injections of equity in the new venture.

I reported at the weekend that Phoenix had hired Dean Street Advisers and WH Ireland to raise the money to fund an acquisition. Those talks are understood to be making good progress.

Phoenix is headed by Rupert Howell, a former ITV (Other OTC: ITVPF.PK - news) and advertising executive.

Nobody involved in the discussions was available to comment.