Daily Telegraph co-owner Sir David Barclay dies aged 86
- 13 January 2021
David Barclay, the British billionaire who built a business empire with his identical twin brother that included ownership of The Daily Telegraph newspaper, has died after a short illness aged 86, APA reports citing Financial Times.
Born within minutes of each other to a family of humble means in west London, Sir David and his brother Frederick moved in tandem as businessmen for most of their careers, first in the property and hotel sector before moving into shipping, retail and media.
While the Barclays fiercely guarded their privacy, often through the courts, serious tensions within the family and between the brothers spilled into public in recent years.
This culminated last year in Sir Frederick and his daughter Amanda suing a group of Sir David’s direct relatives for allegedly being complicit in bugging 1,000 of his private conversations in the Ritz hotel.
The dispute was partly over the offshore family trust, which divided the Barclay brothers’ assets among their children.
At points the brothers’ holdings spanned the Ritz and Cavendish hotels in London, which were sold in 2020 and 2012 respectively; the former Littlewoods home shopping business that became the online retailer Shop Direct; the brewing-to-shipping group Ellerman; and the Yodel delivery and logistics business.
But the Barclay family’s influence in large part came through its print titles, which the brothers began acquiring in the early 1990s with the purchase of The European and The Scotsman.
After working to develop the Sunday Business, which closed in 2008, the Thatcherite Barclay brothers seized the chance to buy the Telegraph family of newspapers, titles which still hold great sway with the Conservative party. In its obituary of Sir David, the Telegraph said it was an ambition “the brothers had nurtured since the 1980s”.
Initially in 2003, David and Frederick negotiated a controversial arrangement with the owner Conrad Black, the media baron who was later convicted of obstruction of justice and theft and pardoned by Donald Trump in 2019.
This involved paying Lord Black $326m via a private Canadian company, sidestepping the board of his Hollinger International group — an arrangement eventually struck down by a US judge. The Barclay brothers still secured the Telegraph newspapers and Spectator magazine in an auction in 2004, defeating the owners of the Daily Mail with a bid of £665m.