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Friday, 17 March, 2000, 10:33 GMT
'Tele' sold for 300m

The Belfast Telegraph: Has a strong unionist ethos
The Dublin-based media moghul Tony O'Reilly has bought the Belfast Telegraph newspaper for approximately 300m.

Mr O'Reilly, the owner of Independent News and Media, which includes both the Irish and London Independent newsapers, beat off tough opposition for the title.

But rival bidding forced the final price tag up from the expected 270m.

One consortium bidding for the paper was led by the County Down-born former Mirror chief, David Montgomery.

The owners of the Telegraph, Trinity Mirror, announced the sale on Friday morning as part of an overall development plan for the company.

The sale is likely to be examined by the Competition Commission because of Independent News and Media's dominant position in the newspaper market in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The Dublin company already owns the Sunday World and will now take over Northern Ireland's largest-selling Sunday tabloid, the Sunday Life.


The company had a 20m annual turnover
The Belfast Telegraph styles itself as Northern Ireland's national newspaper and has a strong unionist ethos.

The sale was prompted by the takeover of the Mirror Group by the Telegraph's parent company, Trinity Holdings.

That deal meant that the paper, and Northern Ireland's main morning newspaper, the Newsletter, would be in the same hands - something the Competition Authority said could not be allowed to happen.

The bid from Independent News and Media prompted unease among unionists who said they were worried that the Belfast Telegraph's ethos might by diluted.

These fears were met with a well-managed campaign aimed at assuring them of the Dublin-based company's sensitivity to unionist concerns.

Measures which the Independent group hinted at included the appointment of a local board, which would include the Ulster Unionist party chairman, Lord Rogan.

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09 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Buyers bid for Belfast newspaper
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