New owners were forced into fierce bidding war

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The Independent Online

The road to ownership of the Telegraph Group has been a long one for the Barclay twins Sir David and Sir Frederick, whose names are commonly prefixed with the description "reclusive''.

The road to ownership of the Telegraph Group has been a long one for the Barclay twins Sir David and Sir Frederick, whose names are commonly prefixed with the description "reclusive''.

Lord Black's initial attempt to sell the Telegraph titles to the pair, owners of the Scotsman group of newspapers and the Ritz Hotel in London, was blocked in February by a judge in Wilmington, Delaware.

The Tory peer was prepared to sell the newspapers to them for $466.5m (£250m). Instead they were forced to fight their way through a lengthy bidding war and have now bought the Telegraph Group for $1.33bn (£729.5m).

Jeremy Deedes, the chief executive of the Telegraph Group, said: "There were a lot of people who were very keen to buy it [the group]. This is not a game, it's serious business. All we are able to do is to look at the track record of what they have acquired in the past. I think they [the Barclays] have a terrific record of being reliable, long-term custodians of acquisitions ... over the years.

"That's the perfect answer for the Telegraph," added Mr Deedes, who has said he will step down as chief executive once the new owners are in place.

"It's good news for journalists, it's good news for the company, and it's good news for the long term of the group."

Unlike the Daily Mail and General Trust, which dropped out of the bidding for the Telegraph last week, the Barclays are unlikely to face competition issues as they do not own a substantial slice of the British national daily newspaper market.

Their existing newspaper group, Holyrood Holdings includes The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, the Edinburgh Evening News and The Business.

Andrew Neil, the publisher of these titles, has been kept at arm's length during the bidding process, but the former Sunday Times editor is tipped to become a consultant to the Telegraph Group under the Barclays.

Sir David's son Aidan is expected to be appointed to the post of chief operating officer.

The Barclay twins, born in 1934, live in a castle on the Isle of Brecqhou, part of the Channel Islands. They also own the mail order company Littlewoods and the Mirabeau Hotel in Monte Carlo. They were knighted by the Queen in 2000, and were ranked the 159th-richest people in the world by Forbes magazine this year.

In January, Sir David said: " The Daily Telegraph has a long-established editorial position which we respect and with which we do not intend to interfere.''

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