Hollinger International has again denied reports of an attempted buyout of its shares by the Barclay brothers.

The international newspaper group -- whose assets include Britain's Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post -- said it had not received any new bid for the 70% of its stock that is publicly listed.

The Barclays are already trying to secure control of Hollinger International by the back-door, having agreed to acquire Hollinger Inc -- the parent company that owns 30% of the media group's stock but 73% of its voting rights -- from present owner Lord Conrad Black. The newspaper firm, however, is desperately trying to block that deal with a lawsuit filed in Delaware.

Last week it was claimed the reclusive Barclay twins had offered $18 (€14.44; £9.87) per share in an attempt to avoid the legal wrangling and take full control of the newspaper firm [WAMN: 30-Jan-04]. These reports were swiftly denied, but were followed at the weekend by claims the brothers had raised their bid to $20 per share, valuing the 70% stake at around $1.2 billion.

In response, Hollinger International announced it had received no such bid, insisting that it would continue to investigate an asset sale as it seeks to avoid a cash crisis.

However, one possibility is that the media group is pursuing with the auction to push up the Barclays' price. A buyout could be preferable to an asset sale because the latter would incur heavy tax liabilities.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff