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Barclay family’s Very Group dealt blow as auditor Deloitte quits

Aidan and Howard Barclay at The Spectator magazine’s 180th anniversary party in 2008 (Richard Young/REX)
Aidan and Howard Barclay at The Spectator magazine’s 180th anniversary party in 2008 (Richard Young/REX)

Deloitte has quit as auditor of retail business the Very Group, hitting the value of its debt amid a growing spotlight on the Barclay family’s business empire and its previous ownership of the Telegraph newspaper.

Bonds in the Very Group, a UK retailer that also offers financial services to its customers, fell after it said its auditor had ended an 11-year relationship due to trouble accessing information on financing arrangements across the wider group.

Very Group bonds due in 2026 dropped 3 pence on the pound to 85 pence following the company’s statement on Wednesday, according to CBBT pricing compiled by Bloomberg, and are now at their lowest since November.

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The Barclay family are the former owners of the Telegraph newspaper, which is currently at the center of a political row amid scrutiny over its acquisition by an Abu Dhabi-backed investment group. Redbird IMI loaned the Barclays £600 million ($762 million) secured against media titles including the Telegraph and the Spectator magazine, while IMI provided a further £600 million to refinance assets such as Very Group.

Conservative politicians argued that the Telegraph’s journalists could fall under the influence of the UAE, and the UK government is now planning to legislate against foreign state ownership of newspapers or current affairs journals.

Very said in the statement that all necessary information was provided by the other group companies to Deloitte and added that its accounts were filed on time and approved by the  auditors. Its website quoted Deloitte saying that the difficulties in obtaining information had been resolved, but it had nonetheless decided to resign.

When contacted by Bloomberg News, Deloitte declined to comment.