Humiliating endgame for the Barclay family. On Wednesday June 7, British billionaires lost control of their jewels in the press sector: the Daily TelegraphBritain’s leading right-wing daily, and the Spectator, a weekly influential in circles close to the Conservative Party. These two media “could” be put up for sale, according to AlixPartners, the legal representative.
The Barclay family had been in default for several years on a large debt they owed to Lloyds Banking Group. After long negotiations, when he “there was no sign that a refund would take place”, the British bank lost patience. She mandated AlixPartners to take control of B.UK, the family’s Bermuda-registered holding company, which indirectly owns the media groups. In the aftermath, all members and representatives of the Barclay family lost their seats on the various boards of directors controlling these media.
The epic of the Barclay brothers is so romantic that it inspired a play in France. The twins, born poor in London in 1934 into a family of eight children, gradually built an empire that ranged from merchant shipping to luxury hotels – including the Ritz in London – to a parcel delivery business. The two brothers, specialists in financial arrangements, shunned publicity so much that no public photo of them has been available since 2000. Regularly accused of tax evasion, they lived between Monaco and a castle on the island of Brecqhou, a uninhabited pebble one kilometer long in the English Channel. In 2004, they got their hands on the Daily Telegraph and the Spectatorand they had regularly been suspected of trying to influence the editorial line.
But the story ends badly. In January 2021, David Barclay died of Covid-19. Frederick, his twin, was sued by his wife in costly divorce proceedings and he was ordered, in May 2021, to pay her 100 million pounds (116 million euros). A vast family estrangement seems to have been added to the case: in 2020, Frederick and his daughter Amanda sued David’s three sons, accusing them of having installed microphones at the Ritz to spy on them.
With the cascade of offshore companies holding the family assets, it is unclear why the loan owed to Lloyds Banking Group was not honored. But the consequence is clear: two major British newspapers are on the market. THE Telegraph, in particular, is in excellent financial health, with 750,000 subscribers, a turnover of 245 million pounds and a net profit of 16.7 million pounds. The pro-Brexit daily, which has long published the widely read columns of a certain Boris Johnson, should interest many people.
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