Desmond flying high despite turbulent times

Richard Desmond is buying a new private jet. Clearly some businesses are more recession-proof than others...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The latest results from Richard Desmond’s holding company Northern & Shell, which controls the Star and Express newspapers, OK magazine and (so we’re told) various ‘adult’ interests, will apparently reveal that its chairman has set aside £17m to buy a new company jet, according to the FT. Editorial director Paul Ashford told the paper that N&S needed the jet because it was becoming an ‘increasingly international business.’

Of course, he’s not talking about the Express here, whose unique brand of bourgeois Little-Englandness isn't even selling particularly well in the UK. OK magazine is now printed around the world (N&S launched in the US three years ago). And of course, Desmond’s various porn channels and magazines will also travel reasonably well across language barriers…

One of the problems for N&S is that it’s fast running out of other options, since all these business-class airlines keep going bust. Apparently it used to fly its executives on Eos, until it went down the tubes; it then transferred its business to Silverjet, which itself is now knee-deep in a funding crisis. At least if he owns his own jet, Desmond can guarantee that his underlings will actually be able to get from A to B for the foreseeable future.

And for his investors, it could have been worse – according to the FT, he initially tried to buy a $60m Gulfstream G650 jet but was out-bid, forcing him to settle for an eight-seater G450 instead. Our heart bleeds – particularly as this year his salary will apparently drop from last year’s pension-boosting £40m bonanza to a comparatively measly £631,000.

On the other hand, at least with extravagant acquisitions like this, Desmond may help to dispel some of the economic gloom currently afflicting the UK. Always keen to keep the British end up, the Express boss is even practising what his paper preaches with regard to migrant workers: apparently his flagship porn channel Television X is apparently only employing UK ‘stars’ for its shows. A big gesture, we’re sure you’ll agree.

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