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Jeff Zucker’s RedBird sparks UK concern over Telegraph bid

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British media minister Lucy Frazer said on Wednesday she was “determined” to intervene in a deal that could see Abu Dhabi-backed RedBird IMI take control of the Daily Telegraph, saying she was concerned about the newspaper’s independence.

The right-wing title and Spectator magazine, favored by politicians in the main Conservative Party, are being sold after Lloyds Banking Group took control in June following a long dispute with the former owners, the Barclay family.

But the sale was suspended on Monday until December 4, to give Lloyds Banking Group time to secure a 1.2 billion pound ($1.5 billion) debt repayment plan put forward by Barclays, backed by Redbird IMI.

Under the plan, RedBird IMI, led by former CNN executive Jeff Zucker, could end up owning the securities through a debt-for-equity swap.

The government said it understood RedBird IMI intended to exercise the option as soon as possible.

British media minister Frazer said she had written to Lloyds, the Barclay family and RedBird to inform them of the potential public interest intervention notice.
REUTERS

Frazer said he had written to Lloyds, the Barclay family and RedBird to inform them of the potential public interest intervention notice.

The government told RedBird in the letter that the minister was concerned about the possibility of influencing the Telegraph’s operations, including editorial operations.

“She is aware that RedBird IMI has links to media organizations that have been criticized for their partisan views and therefore believes there may be an impact on the plurality of newspaper opinions in the UK, if RedBird IMI gains influence over TMG,” the letter said. .

Under the plan, RedBird IMI, led by former CNN executive Jeff Zucker, could end up owning the securities through a debt-for-equity swap.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Abu Dhabi’s IMI (International Media Investments) says it is building a portfolio of media assets around the world, with brands including CNN Business Arabe and interests in Sky News Arabia and Euronews.

Frazer will consider the companies’ representations submitted by Thursday afternoon before deciding to intervene, the letter added.

RedBird IMI confirmed that it had received the letter.

The government told RedBird that the minister was concerned about the possibility of influencing the Telegraph’s operations, including editorial operations.
REUTERS

“If we acquire ownership of the Telegraph and Spectator, we will be fully committed to maintaining the publications’ existing editorial team and believe that the editorial independence of these titles is essential to protect their reputation and credibility,” a spokesperson said, reaffirming further detail. representations.

Groups that have confirmed interest, or have been reported to be interested in the sale, include Daily Mail owner DMGT, Belgian publisher Mediahuis, National World, hedge fund founder Paul Marshall and Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.

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