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Top Telegraph staff in line for windfalls as sale looms | Business News

Dozens of executives and editorial staff at the Telegraph newspapers are in line for substantial financial windfalls as part of a new incentive plan put in place to secure a sale of the titles.

Sky News has learnt that the board of The Daily Telegraph’s holding company has drawn up plans for a multimillion pound scheme encompassing roughly 30 senior employees of the group.

An insider said on Thursday that the details were finalised last week, as a formal process to sell two of Britain’s most influential newspapers got under way.

Similar bonus schemes designed to retain and incentivise key employees during a merger process or other period of corporate activity are routinely used by corporate boards.

The precise sums of money and number of Telegraph employees eligible for the payouts were unclear, although one source said it amounted to millions of pounds across the pool of recipients.

These are likely to include Nick Hugh, the Telegraph Media Group chief executive, as well as key journalists such as Chris Evans, The Daily Telegraph editor.

The scheme is said to be skewed towards senior editorial staff given their importance to the operation of the newspapers during an auction that could last for at least three months.

The sale of the broadsheet titles, and The Spectator magazine, has been triggered by an escalating row between the Barclay family, the media group’s long-standing owner, and their principal lenders, Lloyds Banking Group.

Sky News revealed last month that the family had proposed a £1bn deal to repay the bulk of the money it owes to Lloyds, with financing provided by First Abu Dhabi Bank, the biggest lender in the Gulf.

Lloyds’ decision to press ahead with an auction – which is expected to generate bids of around £600m – has angered the Barclays amid suggestions that the sources of their funding could prompt ministers to launch a probe on public interest grounds.

Danny Kruger, a backbench Conservative MP who wrote last week to the culture secretary, Lucy Frazer, to demand such an inquiry, has links to one of the rival bidders: Sir Paul Marshall, the hedge fund billionaire and shareholder in GB News.

Other potential bidders include Lord Rothermere, the Daily Mail proprietor, who has also been in talks with Middle Eastern investors, and the former Daily Telegraph editor Sir William Lewis.

The London-listed media group National World has also registered its interest.

Until June, the newspapers were chaired by Aidan Barclay – the nephew of Sir Frederick Barclay, the octogenarian who along with his late twin Sir David engineered the takeover of the Telegraph 19 years ago.

Lloyds had been locked in talks with the Barclays for years about refinancing loans made to them by HBOS prior to that bank’s rescue during the 2008 banking crisis.

The family’s debt to Lloyds also includes some funding tied to Very Group, the Barclay-owned online shopping business.

The Telegraph and Spectator disposals are being overseen by a new crop of directors led by Mike McTighe, the boardroom veteran who chairs Openreach and IG Group, the financial trading firm.

Mr McTighe has been appointed chairman of Press Acquisitions and May Corporation, the respective parent companies of TMG and The Spectator (1828), which publish the media titles.

A spokesman for Telegraph Media Group declined to comment on the incentive scheme.