Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund Redbird IMI has “reached an agreement to provide a package of loans” to the Barclay family to help them repay the debts they owe to Lloyds Banking Group in a bid to take control of the Telegraph and Spectator publications.
Lloyds would need to agree to the deal. City A.M. understands that while the lender is obliged to look at the deal, it has not yet agreed to it. Due diligence is in its early stages and could take weeks to complete.
Lloyds declined to comment. City A.M. was unable to reach the Barclay family for comment.
A spokesperson for Redbird IMI, a joint venture between Redbird Capital and International Media Investments of Abu Dhabi, said it “will provide a loan to the value of £600 million secured against the Telegraph and Spectator.”
“RedBird IMI are entirely committed to maintaining the existing editorial team of the Telegraph and Spectator publications,” the Redbird spokesperson said.
“We are excited by the opportunity to support the titles’ existing management to expand the reach of the titles in the UK, the US and other English-speaking countries,” they added.
Regulators must also give their stamp of approval and there is already political pushback. Government ministers have been urged to deploy the UK’s national security laws over the UAE-backed attempt to regain control over the titles.
Last week, MPs wrote to deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden, business secretary Kemi Badenoch and culture secretary Lucy Frazer asking them to investigate the deal warning that the situation risks a “potential threat to press freedom”.
Redbird said they will “continue to co-operate fully” with the government and the regulators. Redbird IMI is a joint venture between Redbird Capital and International Media Investments of Abu Dhabi, led by ex-CNN boss Jeff Zucker.