What next for the 'Express'?

Mention of the Barclay brothers in newspapers is usually preceded by the word "reclusive". That description can now be formally transferred to Lord Hollick, owner of Express Newspapers. He has been extraordinarily reticent about his plans for the titles - the
Daily and
Sunday Express and
Daily Star - and has not even discussed them with his editor-in-chief, Rosie Boycott. Indeed, the two don't seem to have spoken for three months.

Mention of the Barclay brothers in newspapers is usually preceded by the word "reclusive". That description can now be formally transferred to Lord Hollick, owner of Express Newspapers. He has been extraordinarily reticent about his plans for the titles - the Daily and Sunday Express and Daily Star - and has not even discussed them with his editor-in-chief, Rosie Boycott. Indeed, the two don't seem to have spoken for three months.

But yesterday Lord Hollick, or some of his top brass at United News & Media, were discussing the future of the Express. They were discussing it with the Hinduja brothers. The Hinduja brothers, with a £100m bid join fellow siblings, the Barclays (£75m) and another new entrant in the race, former Mirror chief executive David Montgomery, who is preparing a £90m bid with private equity firm, 3i. Mohamed Fayed is interested but hasn't made a cash offer.

According to The Observer at the weekend, Tony O'Reilly, executive chairman of Independent News and Media plc, owners of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, is also among the suitors. That much is wrong. Brendan Hopkins, chief executive of Independent News and Media UK, said yesterday: "We have no interest in the Express titles. We have never expressed an interest, or seen or received any figures in relation to the titles."

That may not be the best news for Express editor Rosie Boycott, who has confided to friends that she would like to see the titles come under the ownership of Independent News and Media.

Ms Boycott has also, of course, worked with David Montgomery. Indeed, he made her a newspaper editor, bringing her from Esquire to The Independent on Sunday. That faith in her ought to make him, too, a welcome potential proprietor. But her memory will be good enough to know that for Montgomery, proprietorship and extreme cost cutting go hand in hand. The Express group now desperately needs investment, of which it has been starved under Lord Hollick.

The Barclay Brothers and their publisher Andrew Neil would love to get their hands on the Express, and a head-on fight with the Mail under Neil's stewardship would be invigorating. Almost certainly, the Barclays would ditch the Blairite approach under present owner Lord Hollick. And Rosie Boycott who has said that a sale to the Barclay brothers would be a "betrayal" would not expect to be kept on as editor.

But this may all be academic. Right now, the Hinduja brothers look like the men most likely to. They are deeply serious about this bid and desperate to own a British newspaper group, I am assured.

There are four brothers. A company insider says they speak of themselves as "Four hearts, one head." It's more like eight hearts, as there are four sons in the business as well.

Unusually for potential newspaper proprietors, the Hindujas seem willing to talk about their plans for the paper - even if in the most general terms. Firstly, they say Express Newspapers will complement their existing media interests. As their existing media interests are an Indian cable network and Net business, it is not obvious how the Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star will fit in.

They guarantee "an injection of cash" for the titles, though there's no indication yet how big an injection that would be. The Express titles, say the Hindujas, are "great British institutions with a proud history". They have clearly been mugging up on their Beaverbrook. They also promise "a genuine campaigning spirit on issues that matter to the British people and that improve the quality of life for everyone."

There will need to be a few extra pages each day to encompass such an all-embracing mission statement. And it is , of course, possible that one of the first problems for an Express editor under a Hinduja ownership would be how to cover the affairs of the Hinduja brothers. We will know on 20 November whether charges will in fact be made against them in India in relation to alleged payments regarding an arms deal. I doubt if any would-be proprietor has ever considered entering the market with their own affairs under such scrutiny.

It can safely be said that neither Andrew Neil nor the Hinduja brothers will continue with the (admittedly wavering) Blairite approach that has existed under Lord Hollick. As the latest circulation figures show, the Express is down year on year, while the Mail continues to climb. The Hindujas say they would appoint trustees to guarantee editorial independence. Those who know the brothers say that they will honour this pledge, but they add that they, their four hearts and their one head all believe that the Express's future is not as a left-of-centre newspaper.

Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
Queen Elizabeth II sends the first royal tweet under her own name to declare the opening of the new Information Age Galleries at the Science Museum, South Kensington, London
media... and the BBC was there to document one of the worst reactions
News
politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker