Telegraph woos institutions: Board again denies connection between sale of shares and price cut

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The Independent Online
THE Telegraph is arranging meetings with institutional shareholders to show there was no connection between last week's cut in the price of the Daily Telegraph and the sale five weeks previously of 12.5 million shares by a company controlled by its chairman.

Lord Swaythling, senior non- executive director on the board, said he had had complaints from investors that bought those shares at 587p only to see the shares collapse to 332p following the price cut. They have since recovered some of that ground and yesterday closed at 385p, up 25p.

'Of course the institutions are upset. Anyone would be rather acid in that situtation,' Lord Swaythling said. 'The fact remains there was no connection between the two events.'

A number of shareholders - including Henderson Administration in a rare public criticism - have expressed their anger that the share sale was so closely followed by the price cut. But an investigation by the Stock Exchange found no evidence of a connection.

Lord Swaythling said that was supported by the non-executive directors, who backed Mr Black at a board meeting yesterday morning. The meeting replaced one due to be held on Friday at which a cut in the price of the Telegraph from 48p to 30p was due to have been discussed.

News of the cut leaked, however, and the group decided to cut the price last Thursday instead of waiting until Monday.

But Lord Swaythling insisted that the non-executives - who include Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, chairman of NM Rothschild, and Henry Keswick,chairman of Jardine Matheson - were made aware of the cut.