Abu Dhabi-backed RedBird IMI Makes £600M Move to Take Over Telegraph and Spectator in Game-Changing Media Deal
Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund RedBird IMI has secured loans worth £600 million to acquire UK newspapers The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, as well as The Spectator magazine. This move has drawn attention from lawmakers concerned about national security. RedBird IMI has reassured that it will maintain the existing editorial team and protect the publications' reputation.
Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund RedBird IMI has announced its plans to take control of The Daily and Sunday Telegraph sister newspapers, as well as The Spectator magazine, in Britain. RedBird IMI, a joint venture between US firm RedBird Capital and Abu Dhabi's International Media Investments, has secured a package of loans worth £600 million ($750 million) to acquire the Telegraph Media Group.
The move comes after the parent company of the right-leaning titles, which has been controlled by the Barclay family for nearly two decades, was put up for sale earlier this year due to unpaid debts. RedBird IMI intends to fully pay off the debts owed to Lloyds Banking Group, allowing the media group to be taken out of receivership. The joint venture also plans to convert a further loan against the Telegraph and Spectator titles into equity, pending regulatory approval, which would give it eventual ownership of the media group.
RedBird Capital, led by former CNN president Jeff Zucker, will take over the management and operational responsibility for the titles, with IMI acting as a passive investor. This move has drawn attention from Conservative party lawmakers, who have urged the government to use national security laws to investigate Abu Dhabi's role in the takeover. They question the logic of allowing overseas sovereign wealth funds to acquire national newspapers.
RedBird IMI has reassured that it will cooperate fully with any regulatory review and is committed to maintaining the existing editorial team of the Telegraph and Spectator publications to protect their reputation and credibility. The Telegraph Media Group was acquired by the Barclay family in 2004 for £665 million. However, the group's holding company, based in Bermuda, was placed into receivership by lender Bank of Scotland in June due to outstanding debts amounting to £1 billion ($1.2 billion).