GB News tycoon, Sir Paul Marshall, eyes £50m Spectator Deal

The Barclay family is fighting to hold on to The Spectator magazine and Telegraph newspaper. Sir Paul Marshall, the hedge fund tycoon, is one of the billionaires who are circling The Spectator.

Lloyds Banking Group placed Barclays Bermuda-based holding, which controls titles, in receivership last week after it failed repayments on up to £1 billion of debts. The Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator titles will be sold.

According to sources, Marshall, the tycoon who founded Marshall Wace and was once editor of The Spectator (a weekly edited by Boris Johnson), has been discussing a potential bid for The Spectator. Marshall, the tycoon behind Marshall Wace, is a major shareholder in GB News – a right wing channel launched in 2021 – and founded UnHerd – a news website and opinion site. He could make an offer to buy the Telegraph titles.

Sources claim that bids for “Speccy”, or the newspaper as it’s affectionately called, could fetch up to 50 million pounds sterling. Sources said that bidders for Telegraph titles which lean right-wing could include owners of Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday. However, there may be concerns about competition.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has ruled out making a bid. Axel Springer – the German media group who tried to purchase the titles in 2004 – is also unlikely to make a bid. Daniel Kretinsky has expressed interest in purchasing the Telegraph. He owns shares in Sainsbury’s, the parent company of Royal Mail and also holds stakes in Sainsbury’s.

In 2004, Sir Frederick and David Barclay (who died in 2021) bought the Telegraph and the Spectator for 665 million pounds sterling. The Barclay family owned the Ritz hotel in London and Very, an online retailer and Yodel, a parcel delivery company. The Lloyds situation does not affect either.

The sons of David Barclay have been removed from their positions as directors at the Telegraph and Spectator. However, it is understood that they are fighting to regain control over the titles.

This week, they will be in contact with investors from the Middle East to discuss how they can support them and make offers to Lloyds for the business. AlixPartners said that they are “willing” to continue talks with Barclays.

Lazard was appointed to explore options for the business and other investment firms could be hired to find buyers.

Marshall’s source said that it was still too early to know if he will bid, as no documents were sent out with details of financial performance or expectations regarding valuation.

Winston Marshall, Marshall’s son played banjo in Mumford and Sons, but was forced out of the band by 2021, after he praised Andy Ngo, an author who is a conservative. He hosts a podcast called Marshal Matters for The Spectator.

Media analysts at Enders say that The Telegraph may only be worth 3450 million but trophy buyers could be willing to pay more.