Creditor Lloyds takes control of Telegraph newspaper
Lloyds Banking Group has taken control of the Bermuda company that owns the Telegraph Media Group, it has been reported.
Meanwhile, The Times has said that AlixPartners has been appointed as receiver to B.UK, the Bermuda holding company that ultimately controls shares in TMG, the owner of the Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph.
The newspaper said B.UK also ultimately controlsSpectator (1828) Limited, via May Corporation, the Jersey-based owner of The Spectator magazine.
The Telegraph itself has headlined the story of the dispute involving the Lloyds subsidiary, the Bank of Scotland, which is reportedly owed nearly £1 billion by TMG. The media group was purchased by the Barclay family in 2004.
The report said the lender has now appointed receivers to take over group management in anticipation of a bank auction of the publication’s assets by investment bankers.
Aidan Barclay, 67, who had been chairman, and his brother Howard, 63, were removed from the TMG board, along with their associate Philip Peters.
There is believed to be no shortage of would-be buyers, including rivals, wealthy investors and funds potentially linked to Gulf states.
Another strongly interested party could be Antwerp-headquartered, Mediahuis, the newspaper and magazine publishing, distribution, printing, TV, radio and online media company founded in 2014.
With assets in Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg and Germany, Mediahuis publishes daily newspaper titles in Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland as well as regional titles, and is involved in broadcasting a number of Dutch and French language TV and radio stations.
Also seeking British targets are the owners of the German publisher Axel Springer.
The Telegraph article online stated: “In a day of fast-moving developments, Lloyds seized a Bermuda-based entity in the Barclay family business which is a parent company to The Telegraph and The Spectator magazine.
“The change of control is expected to have no impact on the operations of The Telegraph or its staff.
“The receivers also confirmed that the publisher is not entering administration and is in good financial health.”
Nick Hugh, TMG’s chief executive, told staff: “I want to assure you all that this is a successful, profitable business. I am confident we will continue to grow and prosper.”
The receivers, a specialist consultancy called AlixPartners, installed two new non-executive directors to represent Lloyd's.
They said they would consider alternative strategies to repay a facility which remains in default despite extensive discussions to resolve the situation, and that may involve the sale of the Telegraph and Spectator businesses.
The receivers were this week arranging for an independent chairman as they await a new owner.
The Barclay family still felt a resolution of their dispute with the bank was possible. Their spokesman said: “We hope to come to an agreement that will satisfy all parties.”