Hollinger International, the rapidly diminishing media empire owned by recently ennobled Canuck Lord Conrad Black, has activated the saliva glands of rival UK newspaper groups.

Word around Grub Street is that disposal-happy Hollinger would not be averse to the right offer for its lucrative UK properties, the Daily Telegraph and its Sunday sibling.

Licking their lips are said to be Express Newspapers’ proprietor Richard Desmond and Lord Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail & General Trust. If the Telegraph Group is put up for grabs, the two Brit tycoons are not likely to slug it out a deux – European media-owners and financial buyers are also said to be interested.

Despite denials from Hollinger that the Telegraph is on Lord Black’s disposal list, industry observers note that Black said much the same earlier this year about The National Post in Canada, shortly before unloading his 50% stake.

Question marks are also said to hang over Hollinger’s US title, the Chicago Sun-Times, and The Jerusalem Post.

Earlier this month Hollinger posted widening Q3 losses of £100 million and announced plans to lay off 250 staff, over one-third of its workforce [WAMN: 16-Nov-01].

News source: Financial Times