Abu Dhabi-backed fund poised to take over Telegraph

- BBC News

Abu Dhabi-backed fund poised to take over Telegraph

An Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund is poised to take control of the Telegraph newspaper and Spectator magazine.

RedBird IMI said it had agreed to provide loans to repay debts owed by the publications previous owners, the Barclay family, that would bring the titles out of receivership.

If the deal is approved then Redbirds chief executive, former CNN boss Jeff Zucker, would run the business.

However, any deal is likely to face close regulatory scrutiny.

It comes five months after the Telegraph and Spectator were taken over by Lloyds bank as it sought to recover debts owed by Barclay brothers.

Lloyds launched a sales process of the business to recover more than £1bn that was outstanding.

However, on Monday the investment fund, which is a joint venture between US firm RedBird Capital and International Media Investments (IMI) of Abu Dhabi, confirmed it had reached a deal with the Barclays.

This will see the debts owed to Lloyds repaid, and the news titles taken out of receivership.

RedBird IMI will lend the Barclays £600m, secured against the publications, with IMI also providing a similar sized loan against other Barclay-owned assets.

Under the terms of the deal Redbird has the right to turn the loan secured against the Telegraph and Spectator into equity, which would hand it control of the titles.

A spokesman said it planned to "exercise this option at an early opportunity".

Any deal is likely to attract regulatory scrutiny. On Sunday, six Conservative MPs wrote to Deputy PM Oliver Dowden and the business and culture secretaries to raise concerns about national security and press freedom.

They said International Media Investments was owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Emirati royal family and the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

The MPs wrote: "Material influence over a quality national newspaper being passed to a foreign ruler at any time should raise concerns, but given the current geopolitical context, such a deal must be investigated."

In its statement, Redbird IMI said that following the transfer of ownership, RedBird Capital alone would take over the management of the titles under the leadership of Mr Zucker. It added that International Media Investments "will be a passive investor only".

It added: "RedBird IMI are entirely committed to maintaining the existing editorial team of the Telegraph and Spectator publications and believe that editorial independence for these titles is essential to protecting their reputation and credibility."

Other names have been linked to the Telegraph and Spectator since they were put up for sale including GB News investor Sir Paul Marshall, Daily Mail publisher DMGT and German publisher Axel Springer.

Read it all at BBC News