Express and Associated join battle for Telegraph Group

The battle for ownership of the Telegraph Group intensified this week with bidders including Associated Newspapers and Express Newspapers entering the fray.

Lord Black is pushing ahead with his deal to sell his stake in Hollinger International to the Barclay brothers but Hollinger is desperately trying to scupper the sale.

The Barclay brothers' Press Holdings International company has launched its tender offer for shares in Hollinger Inc, which would give it a controlling 30 per cent stake in the Telegraph parent company Hollinger International.

But Hollinger's adviser Lazards has been working on attracting rival bids for the company with reports suggesting that Associated's owner, the Daily Mail & General Trust, has tabled a £500 million bid, trumping the £254 million agreed with the Barclays.

The venture capital groups Candover and 3i, supported by the former Trinity Mirror chief executive David Montgomery, and Richard Desmond, the owner of the Express, are also said to have approached Lazards.

The battle between Black and Hollinger intensified with Black using his controlling stake in Hollinger to rewrite its rules in a bid to dissolve its corporate review committee.

In response, Hollinger International issued a lawsuit to challenge this action and to prevent Black from selling his stake to the Barclays. It also issued a shareholder rights plan to dilute Black's stake in the event of a change of control.