As the remaining two runners in the Hollinger International [H-Intl] Telegraph Group race continue to sweat it out, they may yet fall at the hurdle known as Lord Conrad Black.

A recent ruling by judge Leo Strine lifts at the end of October the injunction against Black interfering in the sale [WAMN: 10-Jun-04]. It is expected he will choose to intervene, citing the best interests of H-Intl shareholders, himself included.

Black's favourites to win the race are the media-shy Barclay twins, David and Frederick, although their current offering for the Telegraph group lacks the financial safety net associated with their first bid at the end of last year.

This limited Black's legal outgoings to $60 million (€49.7m; £32.6m), but no such protection is guaranteed this time round, leaving Black less than happy. However, any complaints from His Lordship will have to be channeled via judge Strine who is currently presiding over his fraud case.

STOP PRESS 09.00 GMT Monday 21-Jun-04
Telegraph Auction Winner Will Be Announced Tuesday

Lazard Brothers, the investment bank appointed by Hollinger International to preside over the Telegraph Newspapers sale, said it will announce the wining bid tomorrow, Tuesday, The Times reports.

Waiting with bated breath are the surviving bidders -- Press Holdings (controlled by the reclusive twins Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay) and the 3i-Veronis Suhler Stevenson consortium.

It is believed the latter bid, if successful, will involve a draconian cost-cutting programme drawn up by former Mirror Group ceo David Montgomery.

The Times (UK)

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff