The reclusive billionaire Barclay twins have withdrawn to their Channel Isles fortress and hoisted the portcullis after pulling their £75 million-plus bid for Express Newspapers, recently put up for auction by United News & Media [WAMN: 6-Oct-00].

According to Press Holdings, the holding company for the newspaper publishing interests of Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, UN&M had for six weeks ignored its requests for more detailed information. “In the circumstances,” said a spoke, “Press Holdings has no alternative but to withdraw its interest... and to consider the matter closed.”

Meanwhile, other interested parties, including the controversial Hinduja brothers and former Mirror Group boss David Montgomery, continue to circle the flailing newspaper group. According to an insider, each of the two remaining suitors has its own motives for wooing Express Newspapers and would be undeterred by the Barclays’ withdrawal.

But perhaps the greatest deterrent to a sale is the insistence by UN&M’s chief executive Lord Hollick that the Express Group is worth up to £200 million.

The Times Business News (London)