Two parties are said to be left in the auction of Scotland’s Herald newspapers after the billionaire Barclay brothers were dumped out of the bidding.

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, along with publisher henchman Andrew Neil, are thought to have offered the most for the titles, about £230 million ($356m; €360m).

However, their bid set off a storm of protest from politicians concerned that the reclusive twins would gain a dominant position in central Scotland. The Barclay portfolio already includes the Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News.

Herald owner SMG has reportedly decided not to risk a drawn-out regulatory inquiry and rejected the bid, leaving newspaper groups Independent News & Media and Gannett in the final round. Both, say reports, have lodged bids of around £215m.

SMG is thought to favour a quick sale so as not to alarm investors and creditors ahead of a renegotiation of its £400m overdraft next year.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff