Barclays 'paid epic price' for Telegraph

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The Independent Online

The Barclay brothers paid an "epic, above-value price" for the Telegraph, its former owner Hollinger International has boasted in court papers filed in Delaware.

The Barclay brothers paid an "epic, above-value price" for the Telegraph, its former owner Hollinger International has boasted in court papers filed in Delaware.

Lawyers for the US-based newspaper group argued that the £665m sale was a good deal for shareholders because the price was "substantially above its true economic valuation".

The court papers added that the Barclays were "highly motivated buyers, driven by personal reasons as much as by economic ones. The corporate review committee and [investment bank] Lazard exploited this opportunity to bid up that price."

Disgraced peer Lord Black, the controlling shareholder of Hollinger, is trying to block the sale through the Delaware courts. Judge Leo Strine will decide this week whether to allow the sale to go through.

If, as expected, he does, the Barclays, who own the Ritz hotel and the Scotsman newspapers, will become the official new owners of the Telegraph Group on Friday.

The legal arguments used by both sides descended into farce at times as Hollinger tried to prove the Barclays had overpaid for an asset falling in value, meaning the sale was a good deal for shareholders.

Lawyers for Lord Black, who tried to sell the Telegraph to the Barclays earlier this year, argued a sale is no longer in shareholders' interests, pointing to a memo indicating that profits at the Telegraph could be doubled in five years by "employing recognised management practices".

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