The Telegraph newspapers and Spectator magazine are set to be put up for sale after their parent organisation was forced into receivership due to unpaid debts.
The firm’s holding company B.UK, owned by the billionaire Barclay family, was placed into receivership by the Bank of Scotland after the firm failed to strike a deal on the repayment of a loan.
In a statement today, receivers at AlixParters, appointed by the bank, said despite further discussions a “resolution could not be reached”.
“Following their appointment, the receivers initiated changes to the boards of certain subsidiaries of B.UK Limited including [Telegraph Media Group] and The Spectator to secure control of the assets of the PIHL Group [their parent] in order to facilitate a resolution, which may involve sales of the Telegraph and Spectator businesses.
The two titles are contained within the profitable Press Acquisitions arm of B.UK. Sky News reported the Telegraph, its sister Sunday paper and The Spectator magazine had been valued at £600m for the sale.
The group has been teetering on the edge for days when it was reported on Tuesday that talks with the Barclay family broke down over the refinancing of years-old loan. The talks had involved a longstanding debt owed by the parent company, which is in turn owned by the Barclay family – headed up by Aiden and Howard Barclay.
The debt has been reported to amount to a figure in the hundreds of millions, although the exact figure is unclear, and dates back to loans made by the Bank of Scotland during the 2008 financial crash, which were taken on by Lloyds after it took over the bank.
According to the FT, AlixPartners has been appointed as the receivers of Press Acquisitions should Lloyds go forward with the action.
The billionaire-Barclay family first acquired the newspapers in 2004 in a £665m deal, taking over from the Canadian-british publisher and businessman Conrad Black.
The Barclays currently own the online retailer Very Group and the delivery group Yodel.
A spokesperson for the Barclay family said:“The loans in question are related to the family’s overarching ownership structure of its Media Assets. They do not, in any way, affect the operations or financial stability of Telegraph Media Group.”
“The businesses within our portfolio continue to trade strongly, are run by independent management teams, are well capitalised with minimal debt and strong liquidity. They have no liability for any holding company liabilities, continue to operate as normal and are unaffected by issues in the holding company structure above them. “
“Telegraph Media Group has been performing extremely well and now has over 750,000 subscribers. The company recorded a 25 per cent increase in Operating Profit during 2021, has recently successfully acquired Chelsea Magazine company, and is progressing strongly towards meeting its targets. Speculation about the business entering administration is unfounded and irresponsible.”
The Telegraph Media Group were contacted for comment.