Telegraph says Barclay family may not pay back huge debt

The provision for the Barclay family’s debt pushed the group to a loss of £244.6mil in 2023 from a profit of £33.3mil a year earlier. — Bloomberg

LONDON: The Telegraph Media Group swung to a loss in 2023 after setting aside £277.6mil (US$353mil) to cover loans to the Barclay family, warning it may not recoup the sum.

A review conducted as part of the group’s sale process also uncovered “potential irregularities” in how some historic transactions with related parties and within the group were recorded and warned of a risk of “future possible claims against the company,” the UK media group said in a financial report.

The ongoing uncertainty over the group’s ultimate ownership has cast “doubt over the recoverability of this balance,” the company said in the filing. The discovery hasn’t led to any changes to the company’s assets or liabilities, it said.

The provision for the Barclay family’s debt pushed the group to a loss of £244.6mil in 2023 from a profit of £33.3mil a year earlier, according to the filing. The Telegraph newspaper first reported on the debt.

“The Barclay family is proud of its track record of investment in Telegraph Media Group,” a representative for the family said.

“Throughout the family’s ownership the business has been managed responsibly and within all legal frameworks, with all accounts approved by auditors.” The spokesman declined to comment further.

The disclosure may muddy what is already a complex and politically fraught sales process for the media group, which owns the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph newspapers.

The two titles, alongside sister publication the Spectator, are currently up for auction and sit at the heart of the British conservative establishment. The Barclay family still owns the Telegraph, but control of the group rests with independent directors until a new buyer is found. — Bloomberg

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