Telegraph parent hires Goldman to turn page with new owners

The holding company of The Daily Telegraph has picked Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment banking giant, to oversee an auction of one of Britain’s most prestigious newspaper publishers.

Sky News has learnt the newly constituted board of the title’s parent has chosen Goldman to run a sale process later this year that is expected to value it at about £600m.

Goldman is understood to have been chosen after a contest against several rival banks, with a public announcement expected later on Friday.

Sources said an auction was expected to get under way in the autumn, with buyers sought for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, as well as The Spectator, the current affairs magazine chaired by Andrew Neil, the veteran political broadcaster.

Its appointment comes about seven weeks after Lloyds Banking Group, the principal lender to the Telegraphs’ former owners, the Barclay family, lost patience and placed one of their holding companies into receivership.

This week, Telegraph Media Group (TMG) published full-year results showing pre-tax profits had risen by a third to about £39m in 2022.

A successful digital subscriptions strategy and “continued strong cost management” were cited as reasons for the company’s earnings growth.

“Our vision is to reach more paying readers than at any other time in our history, and we are firmly on track to achieve our 1 million subscriptions target in 2023 ahead of our year-end target,” said Nick Hugh, TMG chief executive..

The sale will be overseen by a new crop of directors led by Mike McTighe, the boardroom veteran who chairs Openreach and IG Group, the financial trading firm.

Mr McTighe was named this month as chairman of Press Acquisitions and May Corporation, the respective parent companies of TMG and The Spectator (1828), which publish the media titles.

Goldman’s appointment adds to a slate of professional advisers involved in determining the future of one of the UK’s most influential newspaper groups.

Lazard, the investment bank, has been advising Lloyds on its options, while AlixPartners was appointed receiver over B.UK Ltd, a Bermuda-based entity, which ultimately controls the companies behind the Telegraph titles.

Lloyds had been locked in talks with the Barclays for years about refinancing loans made to them by HBOS prior to its rescue during the 2008 banking crisis.

A sale for £600m, or anywhere close to it, would trigger a substantial writeback for Lloyds, after it wrote down the loan several years ago.

Until last month, the newspapers were chaired by Aidan Barclay – the nephew of Sir Frederick Barclay, the octogenarian who along with late brother Sir David engineered the takeover of the Telegraph in 2004.

Sir Frederick has been embroiled in a £100m court battle over his divorce settlement.

The Barclays previously owned the Ritz hotel in London, and still own Very Group, the online retailer.

Sky News revealed last weekend the family had also instructed bankers to sell Yodel, the parcel delivery group it owns.

This week, the chief executive of Lloyds, Charlie Nunn, insisted that the bank was in no rush to sell the Telegraph titles.

Prospective bidders include rival newspaper publishers such as DMGT, owner of the Daily Mail, and wealthy individuals, with the likes of hedge fund tycoon Sir Paul Marshall – who is also a big investor in GB News – and Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky also reportedly interested.

Lloyds and TMG declined to comment.

You might also like...

P