Telegraph Media Group set to be put up for sale

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Sunday Telegraph paperIMAGE SOURCE,ALAMY

The Daily and Sunday Telegraph newspapers and The Spectator magazine are set to be put up for sale due to debts owed by their parent group.

Receivers Alix Partners have now taken control of the group, and replaced the current owners, the Barclay family.

The receiver said it doesn’t expect the changes to affect the operations of the papers, which are profitable.

Lender Lloyds Bank is unlikely to recover the original value of the loan, worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

The bank has placed B.UK, a Bermuda-based holding company controlled by the Barclay family, into receivership.

Alix Partners said on Wednesday that it has taken control of Telegraph Media Group, which owns the newspapers, and the company which runs The Spectator.

Family members Howard and Aidan Barclay have been removed as directors, it said.

Lloyds Banking Group said it “regrettably” had no choice other than to appoint receivers, but said “it was willing to continue discussions to find a suitable solution.”

“The decision… follows numerous discussions with B.UK’s parent company, Penultimate Investment Holdings Limited (PIHL). The aim of these discussions, which were held over a long period and undertaken in good faith, had been to find a consensual solution and repayment of PIHL’s borrowing to Bank of Scotland.

“Unfortunately, no agreement could be reached.”

While the bank remains open to returning the titles to the Barclays’ control if the loans are repaid, it is likely that they will now move to a sale, and the investment bank Lazard has been appointed to start exploring options.

Lloyds and the receiver say they will not seek to influence the editorial decisions of the newspapers while in receivership.

Analysts estimate the titles to be worth around £500m, though a wealthy buyer keen to acquire the Telegraph as a trophy asset may pay in excess of that figure.

For the last few years the Telegraph’s billionaire owners have consistently denied rumours that their newspapers could be sold.

Twin brothers Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay bought Telegraph Media Group for £665m in 2004 from the company Hollinger, following the dismissal of its chairman Conrad Black.

Sir David died in 2021 and the business is now run by his son Aidan. Its interests stretch beyond the media and include the courier Yodel.

Sir David Barclay and his twin brother Sir FrederickIMAGE SOURCE,AFP
Image caption,

Sir David Barclay and his twin brother Sir Frederick collecting their knighthoods in 2000

A spokesperson for the Barclays confirmed discussions with Lloyds Banking Group were “ongoing”.

“We hope to come to an agreement that will satisfy all parties,” they said. “As Alix Partners made clear, this situation is in no way related to the financial health or performance of the Telegraph or Spectator businesses.”

The Barclay family previously owned the Ritz hotel in London, before selling in 2020.

The sale of the iconic hotel exposed a bitter rift between the two brothers’ families, including claims of commercial espionage over the bugging of business meetings.

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