Hollinger on Brink to Ink Telegraph Group Deal

14 June 2004

The future of Hollinger International's [H-Intl] hottest property, Britain's Telegraph Group, will be determined this week, it was announced Sunday.

Flying into town Tuesday, pen poised, is H-Int's interim chairman/ceo Gordon Paris. His imminent arrival signals an end to speculation over the newspaper group's new owner.

Waiting with bated breath are a trio of bidders: Press Holdings International (owned by secretive twin knights Frederick and David Barclay); the Daily Mail and General Trust jointly bidding with private equity group CVC; plus another pairing, British venture capital group 3i with America's Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

Rune-readers believe it significant that DM>'s chairman Lord Jonathan Rothermere departed Sunday for a two week holiday in Marrakesh. Some see the peer's departure as a sign of ultimate cool, others as evidence that he's out of the running.

But the smart money in Wall Street and London EC2 is on the Barclays -- free of the encumbrance of a partner and (unlike DM>) of competition concerns.

According to the report in the Sunday Telegraph, all three bids are in the region of £640 million ($1.16bn; €968.45m) despite efforts to talk them up by H-Int's investment banker Bruce Wasserstein of Lazard. Said one bidder with a hint of exasperation: "Bruce has been on the phone trying to get all of us to pay more!"

Data sourced from: Telegraph.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff