A liquidation hearing in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Bank of Scotland PLC v Penultimate Investment Holdings, was adjourned on 20 November, with the titles’ former owners the Barclay family reportedly planning a last-gasp bid to pay back more than £1bn owed to Lloyds Banking Group.
A long-running dispute over repayment of the loans forced Lloyds to take control of the holding company earlier this year.
According to Sky News, the Barclay family has agreed a deal with Abu Dhabi-backed RedBird IMI to gain the funding they need to repay Lloyds by 1 December.
In September it emerged that Nadhim Zahawi – forced out as Conservative Party chair due to his tax affairs – was apparently acting as a middle man to help the Barclay family regain control of the up-for-sale titles.
After the BVI hearing was adjourned on 20 November, the boards of the parent companies of Telegraph Media Group and The Spectator (1828) announced that “sales processes for each of the businesses shall be paused today until after the next court hearing scheduled for 4 December 2023”.
The sale process for the two entities is being handled by Goldman Sachs and officially began a month ago. If it goes ahead it will involve an auction.
Alongside the possible buyback bid from the Barclay family the list of potential interested parties includes:
- Daily Mail owner DMGT
- Times publisher News UK
- David Montgomery’s National World
- Hedge fund founder Sir Paul Marshall
- German publisher Axel Springer
- Czech billionaire (and major Royal Mail shareholder) Daniel Křetínský
- A consortium helmed by former Mail Online editor-in-chief Martin Clarke
Former Telegraph editor Sir William Lewis was also linked with a possible bid for the newspaper, but since the sale process kicked off he has been appointed as CEO and editor of The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.