Barclays Celebrate Acquisition of Telegraph Group

02 August 2004

Britain's gothic twin Knights of the Realm, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, who conduct their business empire from a fortified private island off the coast of France, were celebrating this weekend after their formal victory in the prolonged and hotly-contested battle for the Telegraph Group.

Meantime, former proprietor Lord Conrad Black -- another tycoon ennobled by the British government for making a great deal of money -- crept into a corner to lick his wounds after being ousted from the fray by a US judge [WAMN: 30-Jul-04].

The Daily Telegraph, Britain's best-selling broadsheet, and its Sunday sibling (with The Spectator magazine thrown in for good measure), now join the Barclays' existing media trophies, which include The Scotsman and Business newspapers -- minnows both alongside the Telegraph assets.

Also neatly displayed in the gothic trophy room are London's Ritz Hotel and the giant catalogue shopping and high street retail chain, Littlewoods.

Of their hard-won victory the notoriously tight-lipped brothers would say only that the inking of the deal has ended "months of uncertainty for the Telegraph Group, its titles and employees." But the sighs of relief are qualified.

Many of the other bidders battling for the Telegraph had signalled their intention to graft millions from the editorial and back-office payrolls onto the (already healthy) bottom line. The Barclays are not thought likely to do this.

But instead they keep an inhouse Rottweiler, once kennelled at Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times. Although the twins have reportedly promised senior executives at the Telegraph to keep their editorial director Andrew Neill at bay [WAMN: 28-Jun-04], the fear is he will be unleashed now the ink has dried.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff