London, November 2, 2023
The board of The Daily Telegraph’s holding company is poised to introduce a lucrative bonus scheme that could benefit approximately 30 senior employees as the sale of the esteemed newspaper draws near. Sources close to the matter have disclosed that this multimillion-pound initiative was finalized last week, coinciding with the commencement of the formal sale process for two of Britain’s most influential newspapers.
Such bonus schemes aimed at retaining and motivating key personnel during corporate transitions, such as mergers and acquisitions, are commonly employed by corporate boards. While the precise amounts of money and the number of eligible Telegraph employees remain undisclosed, insiders suggest that the cumulative payout could amount to millions of pounds across the select group of recipients.
Among those expected to benefit from the bonus scheme are Nick Hugh, the Telegraph Media Group’s chief executive, and key journalists like Chris Evans, the editor of The Daily Telegraph. The design of this scheme appears to favor senior editorial staff, underscoring their pivotal role in ensuring the newspapers’ smooth operation during a sale process that may extend over three months.
The decision to sell the broadsheet titles and The Spectator magazine has been spurred by an ongoing dispute between the Barclay family, the long-standing owners of the media group, and their principal lenders, Lloyds Banking Group. Previously, Sky News reported that the Barclays had proposed a £1 billion deal to settle most of their debt to Lloyds, with funding support from First Abu Dhabi Bank, a major lender in the Gulf.
Lloyds’ determination to proceed with the auction, expected to generate bids of approximately £600 million, has triggered frustration within the Barclay family. There have been suggestions that the sources of their funding might provoke government interest due to public interest concerns. Conservative MP Danny Kruger, who recently petitioned the culture secretary for an inquiry, has connections with one of the rival bidders, Sir Paul Marshall, a hedge fund billionaire and GB News shareholder.
Other potential bidders include Lord Rothermere, the proprietor of the Daily Mail, who has engaged in discussions with Middle Eastern investors, and the former Daily Telegraph editor Sir William Lewis. The London-listed media group National World has also expressed its interest in the acquisition.
Until June, the newspapers were chaired by Aidan Barclay, the nephew of Sir Frederick Barclay. The Barclays were the masterminds behind the takeover of the Telegraph 19 years ago. Lloyds had engaged in protracted discussions with the Barclays regarding the refinancing of loans issued by HBOS prior to the bank’s rescue during the 2008 banking crisis. The Barclays’ debt to Lloyds also encompasses financing associated with Very Group, an online shopping business owned by the Barclay family.
The sales of The Telegraph and The Spectator are currently overseen by a new group of directors, led by Mike McTighe, who chairs Openreach and IG Group, a financial trading firm. McTighe has been appointed chairman of Press Acquisitions and May Corporation, the parent companies of TMG and The Spectator (1828), responsible for publishing these media titles.
As the sale of The Telegraph and The Spectator unfolds, the senior staff members of these esteemed publications stand to gain substantial windfalls, underscoring the significance of their roles during this transitional period. The future ownership of these influential media entities remains uncertain, with multiple high-profile bidders vying for control in a sale process that is expected to shape the landscape of British journalism.