The paper, which is owned by the billionaire Barclay brothers David and Frederick, has lost about pounds 50m since they took it over in 1992.
Staff learnt from their bosses that the paper was up for sale, but that the personnel would be wound down to nothing over a 90-day period. Anyone who did not find a job elsewhere in the Barclay Brothers media empire, either on The Scotsman or Sunday Business, would be given a redundancy package.
The news came as a surprise to staff, who had been told that a deal was imminent to transfer the ownership to a consortium of Time Warner and the editor-in-chief, Andrew Neil, with the Barclay Brothers retaining a small share.
Insiders said the way may now be open for the financial information group Bloomberg to take over the company. It would be likely to want the title only, without the extra expense of retaining Mr Neil and senior members of staff such as Mr Neil's old friend, the former MP Gerry Malone. However, Bloomberg refused to comment yesterday.
The paper seems to have been doomed ever since it was started by Robert Maxwell in 1990. The despair of the Barclay brothers over its fortunes was reflected in the words of David Barclay's son, Aidan.
"We have given unstinting support over a number of years to The European and have not seen any return on our investment," he said.Reuse content