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RedBird IMI publicizes interest in Telegraph

Nov 21, 2023
Illustration of a handshake forming part of the Union Jack.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Jeff Zucker's RedBird IMI has shared its plan to acquire the Telegraph newspaper and Spectator magazine.

Why it matters: A deal could set a regulatory precedent as it involves a U.S. firm, funded by Abu Dhabi money, buying U.K. publications.

The latest: The boards of the Telegraph Media Group and the Spectator announced Tuesday morning that the sale processes are paused until after a court hearing scheduled for Dec. 4.

Of note: RedBird IMI is a joint venture between investment firm RedBird Capital and International Media Investments, an Abu Dhabi-based investment company. Zucker is RedBird IMI's CEO.

Details: Under terms of the agreement, RedBird IMI will provide a package of loans to the Barclay family that owns the publications, including a £600 million loan against the Telegraph and Spectator, which it plans to convert into equity.

  • IMI alone will also provide a similarly sized loan secured against other Barclay family businesses and commercial interests, RedBird IMI said in a statement.
  • RedBird Capital will manage the titles, while IMI will be a passive investor only, according to a RedBird IMI spokesperson, who added that acquirers would be "entirely committed" to maintaining the existing editorial team and its editorial independence.
  • Press Gazette first reported the details.

Catch up quick: David and Frederick Barclay bought the titles for £665 million in 2004. Lloyds Banking Group seized control of the publications in June of this year over its debts.

What they're saying: A group of Conservative lawmakers raised concerns over the potential deal's foreign influence in a recent letter to deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden, business secretary Kemi Badenoch and culture secretary Lucy Frazer, according to The Guardian.

  • "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," the lawmakers wrote.
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