Telegraph Group pledges new stability after deal turmoil

LONDON - The management of the Telegraph Group has promised its commercial customers a new era of stability following the Barclay brothers' £665m acquisition of its titles.

Telegraph Group pledges new stability after deal turmoil

It has also promised it will avoid the knee-jerk reaction of launching a compact edition of The Daily Telegraph.

Hugo Drayton, the Telegraph Group's managing director, told Campaign that the Barclays had also indicated there would be no immediate changes in senior personnel. Some change was inevitable, though, after a three- to six-month "getting to know you" period.

Drayton said: "There is a relief and a deep joy here because there will be a period of stability." However, insiders are already tipping Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Telegraph's editor, for the editor's seat at The Daily Telegraph. Martin Newland, the current editor, replaced Charles Moore last year.

Other names linked with the editor's job include the BBC's business editor, Jeff Randall, and Charles Garside, the former editor of The European, both of whom have worked with the Barclays before.

Jeremy Deedes, who came out of retirement to replace Dan Colson as the chief executive of Telegraph Group, is expected to step down once the handover to the Barclays is completed, leaving a vacancy for the top job.

Aidan Barclay, who is the son of Sir David Barclay, will take on the role of chairman of the Telegraph Group, formerly held by Lord Conrad Black, after the deal is completed. He is currently head of the Barclays' company Press Holdings.

The Barclays outbid a team of venture capital companies, led by 3i, to land Telegraph Group after the Daily Mail & General Trust dropped out at an earlier stage. The deal is likely to be ratified on July 30.

Agencies have welcomed the move. Paul Thomas, the press director at MindShare, said: "From a trading point of view, it doesn't unbalance the market. I don't think the Barclays want to meddle and on the whole they'll be investing rather than cost-cutting and The Telegraph is now free to move into the tabloid market -- all this is of interest and benefit to advertisers."

However, Drayton said: "It's very clear that a tabloid Telegraph is not a great idea at the moment and the Barclays have said that they endorse our view on that."

Two final hurdles remain. The more difficult hurdle is an expected attempt to block the deal by Lord Black, who remains a key shareholder in the Telegraph's owner, Hollinger International.

Black said: "A sale of The Telegraph and Hollinger International's other UK businesses involves the bulk of the company's assets and therefore requires approval of the company's shareholders."

The Office of Fair Trading will also scrutinise the deal, but a full investigation is unlikely given the Barclays' minimal share of the national newspaper market.

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