Some Daily Telegraph staffers are convinced an internal memo about a 'strategic review' could hint the paper is about to be sold

Murdoch maclennanGetty ImagesMurdoch MacLennan, CEO of Telegraph Media Group.

Rumours are swirling among staffers at the Daily Telegraph that the owners of the company, the Barclay Brothers, are planning to sell off the paper — and that there could be layoffs soon, The Guardian first reported.

Staff at the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph received a letter this weekend from chief executive Murdoch MacLennan, which referenced an extensive “strategic review” of the business.

A spokesperson for The Daily Telegraph told Business Insider that the strategic review was about making sure the business is really focused on its core strengths in order to deliver its three year strategy.

The review, led by consultancy firm Deloitte, will take three months. Pay increases are being delayed until the review is complete and there is also hiring freeze in this time.

The spokesperson said layoffs and a sale are not being discussed. In December, the Barclay Brothers denied rumours of a sale in a comment to The Times newspaper. Business Insider understands this position has not changed. A representative for the Barclay Brothers has been contacted with a request for comment, and we’ll update this article once we receive a response.

Deloitte has also been brought on board by Telegraph Media Group management, not the shareholders of the company, which might suggest in itself that a sale was not part of the discussions.

However, some journalists at the newspaper might actually be happy about a sale.

A former Telegraph employee who remains in touch with staff at the paper told Business Insider: “Basically everyone would be happy if it was being sold, because no-one likes the current owners. The general feeling from all my friends who still work at The Telegraph is that a sale would not actually be that bad. The current state [feels like there are] redundancies every six months.”

A current journalist at The Telegraph told The Guardian: “This so-called ‘review process’ bears all the hallmarks of a period of ‘due diligence’. We think the rumours of a sale are justified.”

The Barclay Brothers gained full ownership of the Telegraph Group in June 2004 for £665 million. Since that time. the paper has gone through many rounds of layoffs and editorial changes. The paper has had four different editors since 2009.

In February 2015, Peter Oborne, the newspaper’s chief political commentator resigned, leaving behind a blistering attack on his former employer in a post on the Open Democracy website that accused The Telegraph of refusing to cover major disparaging stories about HSBC because it is a key advertiser. At the time, a Telegraph Media Group spokeswoman said: “We aim to provide all our commercial partners with a range of advertising solutions, but the distinction between advertising and our award-winning editorial operation has always been fundamental to our business. We utterly refute any allegation to the contrary.”

The current editor, Chris Evans, took over from Jason Seiken in April 2015.

Telegraph Media Group reported 2% decline in revenue year-on-year to £318.1 million in 2014, its most-recently filed earnings with Companies House. Pre-tax profit fell 19.8% to £54.9 million in the period, which The Telegraph Media Group says was largely due to an £8 million investment made in its digital operations.

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