Saturday 7 December 2019

Mediahuis raises prospect of entering race for UK's Telegraph Media Group

Expansion: CEO Gert Ysebaert
Expansion: CEO Gert Ysebaert
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The CEO of Belgian-headquartered publisher Mediahuis said the group would look at potentially buying the UK's 'Telegraph' newspapers. Telegraph owners the Barclay brothers are understood to be lining up a sale.

Mediahuis entered the English language newspaper business earlier this year when it bought Independent News and Media (INM) for €146.5m, adding titles including the Irish Independent, 'Belfast Telegraph', 'Sunday World' and 'Kerryman' to its mainly Belgian and Dutch portfolio.

That followed rapid growth in Belgium and the Netherlands, where Mediahuis has emerged as the result of consolidation of long-established media businesses including 'De Telegraaf' and 'NRC Handelsblad' in the Netherlands and 'De Standaard' in Belgium.

Mediahuis has a 35pc share of the Dutch newspaper market and in Belgium it has 43pc of the market.

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Mediahuis CEO Gert Ysebaert told the 'Financial Times' he is looking for further acquisitions, and would consider the 'Telegraph'.

"If the 'Telegraph' is for sale, they should give me a call," he said at the FT Future of News conference.

While David and Frederick Barclay are known to be considering a sale of the Telegraph Group and some of their other assets, no formal process has been launched to sell the titles, bought for £665m in 2004. They are thought to be looking for around £200m.

Though bigger than INM and operating in a bigger market, the 'Telegraph' group is far less profitable.

INM is chaired by Murdoch MacLennan, who oversaw its sale to Mediahuis, and was previously chief executive of the Telegraph Media Group.

Other buyers tipped to take a tilt at the 'Telegraph' include Reach, formerly the Mirror Group, as well as 'Daily Mail' publisher DMGT and media executive David Montgomery's National World vehicle.

Irish Independent

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