Telegraph: Owners put the newspapers up for sale

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Telegraph owners to put newspapers up for sale

The billionaire owners of the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph are to put both titles up for sale.

Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay are understood to be reviewing all of their key assets, which includes the Telegraph Media Group (TMG).

Figures published on 17 October showed TMG’s profit for the last financial year was £900,000 – a 94 per cent drop on the previous financial year.

The Barclay twins, who bought the paper in 2004, have declined to comment.

The news of the sale was first reported by the Times.

There have been rumours of a sale of the Telegraph for several years, which the owners have consistently denied.

Revenues at the Conservative-leaning newspaper — and staunch backer of its former columnist-turned-prime minister Boris Johnson — fell to £271m last year from £278m in 2017.

Telegraph Media Group said a rise in online subscriptions had failed to offset falling sales of newspapers and a dearth of print advertising. The group had 400,000 print and online subscribers in October.

“I have to completely transform an ad-funded business to a subscription business,” said Nick Hugh, the former Yahoo and BT executive who has led TMG since 2017.

He blamed “structural decline” for sliding profits but said new reporting roles and other editorial investments had also contributed.

“But we were still ahead of expectations,” Mr Hugh added, as the privately owned company reported full-year results two weeks later than planned for “administrative purposes” on which he declined to comment further.

Mr Hugh said he expected profits to grow again in 2019, adding he believed the company would reach half a million subscribers by the end of 2020.

The struggles of TMG, one of the most profitable British newspaper groups in recent years, points to the dire situation of the newspaper industry in which few titles have made a success of charging people to read online.

The group, owned by the billionaire Barclay Brothers, is targeting 1m print and digital subscribers and 10m registered digital users by 2023.

The brothers paid £665m for the group in 2004. Press Acquisitions, the holding company for Telegraph Media Group, booked an impairment charge of £114m on the book value of the newspaper group in 2017.

Sir David Barclay (L) and his twin brother Sir Frederick posing after receiving their knighthoods from the Queen at Buckingham PalaceImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Sir David Barclay (L) and his twin brother Sir Frederick received knighthoods in 2000

Sales of the print editions have plummeted in recent years, with the Daily Telegraph averaging a daily circulation of 310,586. The Sunday Telegraph sells, on average, 244,351 copies.

 

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