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Telegraph titles set to be sold after Lloyds calls in receivers

Lloyds Banking Group will seek a sale of the Telegraph Media Group after pushing its parent group into receivership over debts owed by the Barclay family, according to people familiar with the matter.

The UK bank has put B.UK, a Bermudian-based holding company that ultimately controls the Telegraph titles and the Spectator magazine, into receivership, the people said. AlixPartners has been appointed as receiver at B.UK, they added.

Sir Frederick and the late Sir David Barclay acquired the Telegraph newspapers in 2004. The Barclay family loans were acquired by Lloyds with the takeover of HBOS in 2008, and have since been written down as bad debts.

The debts are close to £1bn, bigger than previously reported, the people said. They are held in a complicated cascade of offshore holding companies that ultimately control Press Acquisitions, the group that oversees the Barclay family media assets. 

The scale of the debts suggests that Lloyds would struggle to recover the full value of the loans, given that analysts estimate the titles are worth between £500mn and £700mn. Neither the Telegraph Media Group nor Press Acquisitions will be put into administration.

Lloyds and AlixPartners declined to comment. Lazard, which is advising Lloyds, was not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for the Barclay family said that the “loans in question are related to the family’s overarching ownership structure of its media assets. They do not, in any way, affect the operations or financial stability of Telegraph Media Group.”

He added: “The businesses within our portfolio continue to trade strongly, are run by independent management teams, are well capitalised with minimal debt and strong liquidity. They have no liability for any holding company liabilities, continue to operate as normal and are unaffected by issues in the holding company structure above them.”

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