Harrods-owner Fayed poised to bid for Telegraph Group

LONDON – Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed is reported to be the latest name to have entered the race to snap up the Telegraph Group if its parent Hollinger International is broken up.

Another potential buyer is former Sunday Telegraph editor Charles Moore, who is reported to be putting together a venture capital-backed bid for the group. It is not known which venture capital firm is backing Moore, but a number are thought to be interested.

According to the Observer, Fayed is rounding up a group of senior newspaper executives to put together an offer for the business, which comprises the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator magazine.

Fayed has contacted investment bank Lazard, which is looking at possible options for Hollinger. He is also understood to have sounded out Express Newspapers proprietor Richard Desmond, another bidder for the Telegraph Group, about his offer.

Desmond and Hollinger jointly own West Ferry Printing, where the Daily and Sunday Telegraph are printed. Desmond has first refusal on Hollinger's stake in the plant if it is sold and he hopes this will put off other bidders.

The Harrods and Fulham FC owner has approached Desmond about a proposal to continue printing the Telegraph titles at West Ferry if he were to buy the papers.

Last week, Daily Mail & General Trust, publisher of Express Newspapers arch rival the Daily Mail confirmed it had appointed Merrill Lynch to advise it on a potential bid for the group, which is expected to be priced at £400m.

It also emerged that Spectator chairman, Algy Cluff, is believed to be preparing a management buyout of the magazine from Telegraph Group if it is put up for sale.

Other potential bidders for the Telegraph Group include a number of venture capitalist-backed consortia, former Mirror Group chief executive David Montgomery, outgoing Carlton chairman Michael Green, the Barclay brothers, and former Telegraph Group managing director Stephen Grabiner. Michael Ashcroft, the former Conservative Party treasurer, and US tycoon Nelson Peltz are also seen as potential bidders.

It is still unclear what will happen to Telegraph-parent Hollinger, after being plunged into scandal last month when it was revealed that chairman and chief executive Lord Conrad Black and several other board members had received unauthorised payments totalling $32.15m (£19m). Lord Black personally received $7.2m, which he has promised to pay back.

Investigations into irregular accounting at Hollinger International are now focusing on a part of the unauthorised payments worth £5.5m, paid chiefly to Lord Black and the former CEO David Radler, which arose out of a deal with a wholly owned subsidiary, according to the FT.

Hollinger admitted last month to the payments which had not been authorised by independent directors

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