The reclusive Barclay Brothers, proprietors of Telegraph Media Group, are understood to be gauging buyer interest in the publisher after chief executive Murdoch MacLennan instructed Deloitte to undertake a strategic review of the business.
MacLennan announced the review in a letter to staff – instigating a bout of fear amongst recipients who believe it is either the opening salvo in a long feared sell-off of the title, or a portent harbinger of pending layoffs and cost cutting which such moves tend to precipitate.
The Telegraph, in lockstep with the rest of the publishing industry, has been battling to complete a migration from print to digital with new advertising opportunities in the latter failing to make up for losses in the former.
Speculation in the Guardian however is focussed on the sell-off idea as the most likely end game for the Barclays’, who have owned the business since 2004 having purchased it for £665m.
The paper reports that ‘at least two interested parties’ have already stepped forward albeit in an informal manner at this stage but a spokesman for the Barclays dismissed talk of a sale, insisting: “There are no plans to sell TMG or any part of it and there never have been.”