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Abu Dhabi-backed fund strikes deal in move to secure Telegraph newspaper

Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund RedBird IMI has paved the way to take control of the Telegraph and Spectator publications after agreeing loans to repay debts owed by previous owners, the Barclay family.

Lenders for the Barclay family would need agree to the deal, which is also expected to receive severe political scrutiny.

It comes five months after restructuring specialists AlixPartners were appointed as receivers for the business to recover outstanding debts to lenders.

The Barclay brothers’ bank, Lloyds, hired the receivers to control and help launch a sales process of the business in order to repay debts from failed loans, worth more than £1 billion.

The Spectator
The Spectator magazine had been taken over by lenders at Lloyds (Alamy/PA)

However, on Monday the investment fund, which is a joint venture between US firm RedBird Capital and International Media Investments of Abu Dhabi, confirmed it had struck the deal with the Barclays which it said would take the titles out of receivership and ensure debts to Lloyds were repaid.

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RedBird IMI said it would provide a loan of up to £600 million, secured against the publications, with IMI also providing a similar loan against other Barclay-linked assets.

The fund said the deal includes an option to turn the loans into equity which would hand it control of the newspaper and magazine.

A spokesman said it plans to “exercise this option at an early opportunity”.

US-based RedBird said it would take over “management and operational responsibility” in the deal.

Hedge fund millionaire and GB News investor Sir Paul Marshall, Daily Mail publisher DMGT, Yorkshire Post owner National World and German publisher Axel Springer have all been linked with a takeover move for the Telegraph.

Meanwhile, DMGT and Rupert Murdoch’s News UK were both reportedly interested in a move for The Spectator.

The spokesman for RedBird IMI said: “Any transfer of ownership will of course be subject to regulatory review and we will continue to co-operate fully with the Government and the regulator.

“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.

“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.”