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Hollinger says Desmond bid for Telegraph is 'comical'

LONDON - Hollinger has dismissed speculation that Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond was set to make a bid for the Telegraph newspapers as "comical".

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In a letter to the Financial Times, Dan Colson, deputy chairman and CEO of Hollinger, said, "The concept of being circled by Richard Desmond as a possible purchase of the Telegraph newspapers is too comical to require any reply."

It had been reported earlier this week that Express Newspapers and Associated Newspapers were thought to have approached Lord Black about buying the Daily and Sunday Telegraph newspapers, as speculation persists that the former Canadian press baron is to withdraw from the newspaper business.

Earlier this year, Black completed the sale of the last of his Canadian newspapers with the offloading of his remaining 50% stake in Canada's National Post to CanWest Global Communications, just two years after he launched the conservative national daily.

Colson used the letter to put an end to any speculation that the papers are up for sale.

"There is not and has never been any thought of selling Telegraph newspapers. Hollinger judged a year and a half ago, correctly as it turns out, that it would be prudent to divest most of its Canadian assets and reduce debt," he said.

He went on to say, "The Telegraph newspapers are profitable, unlike most British national newspapers, and the Daily Telegraph is the largest-selling quality newspaper in the UK."

Colson also denied any talks had taken place with the Daily Mail-owning Associated Newspapers.

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