Following the £1.75 billion sale of its TV interests to Granada Media earlier this year, United News & Media has moved to dispose of Express Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Express, The Star and Sunday Express.

The ‘preferred’ bidder is Press Holdings, owned by the secretive Barclay twins, Frederick and David, whose other media interests include The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and Sunday Business. Steered by publisher Andrew Neil, a former Sunday Times editor, Press Holdings has already lodged a 'sounding' offer between £75m and £100m.

UN&M is unlikely to regard a bid at this level with any enthusiasm, having already indicated that it seeks between £150m-£200m and the Barclays concede that they may be prepared to move nearer to UN&M’s price range if the titles’ bottom line justifies.

The Times Business News (London)