No Telegraph buyout planned

MATHEW HORSMAN

Conrad Black's Hollinger, majority owner of the Telegraph group, has "no intention" of reviving a plan to buy out minority shareholders, according to a Hollinger director.

Earlier this year, Hollinger had proposed a buyout at up to 470p a share as part of a general restructuring of the Canadian company's media holdings. Independent directors of Telegraph held out for at least 500p a share and the proposal was dropped.

Some institutional shareholders complained they were not given an opportunity to make their views known, and claim there was considerable support for an offer at the lower level proposed by Hollinger.

"We have certainly heard from some shareholders, expressing concern their views were not canvassed," Daniel Colson, chairman of Telegraph and a Hollinger director, said. "But we have no present intention of reviving the proposal."

The plan had taken up considerable "time, energy and money", and the company was content to complete the formal restructuring of the rest of Mr Black's holdings, leaving aside the question of the Telegraph minority.

Under the restructuring, Hollinger's North American media holdings are being placed with American Publishing, a publicly quoted Black vehicle based in New York.

The plan is aimed at reducing the complexity of the corporate structure and making it easier to raise funds for future expansion.

Since the proposal to buy out the 41 per cent minority was dropped, the shares have drifted well below the proposed offer price and closed at 413p at the end of last week.

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