'Consistent and Persistent' Barclay Twins Take Telegraph

23 June 2004

The exhalation of relief by Telegraph Group executives and staff could be heard as far afield as the Antarctic ice cap.

As they see it, Hollinger International has achieved the best possible result in the worst possible of situations when on Tuesday it sold Britain's leading broadsheet newspaper group to Press Holdings, the media vehicle of famously reclusive tax exiles Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay.

The twin brothers, who operate from an island fortress in the English Channel, have been contenders for the daily and Sunday Telegraph titles (plus politically influential magazine, The Spectator) since Lord Conrad Black first felt the hot breath of creditors down his neck.

According to Ken Costa of UBS, the investment bank advising the twins: "The Barclays were consistent and persistent in a sometimes tortuous process."

Their long sought-after prize will separate the twins' bank vaults from the sum of £665 million ($1.21bn; €1.00bn). In addition they will pay £53m for cash and working capital already within the Telegraph business.

Many observers have seen the gothic duo as frontrunners since it first emerged the titles were up for sale. Less due to post-event prescience, more because other media contenders (such as the Daily Mail & General Trust or Express Newspapers) would almost certainly have triggered intervention by the Competition Commission.

Nor did the odds favour any of the financial consortia circling the Telegraph, viewed by regulators, the newspapers' staff and some Hollinger shareholders as short-term owners seeking a quick kill.

Although the Barclays already own The Scotsman and The Business newspapers in the UK, their combined share of the UK market is in sufficiently large to cause competition concerns.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff