Regulators hand findings from Telegraph takeover probes to Government

The Culture Secretary has received reports from UK regulators over the potential impact of the proposed gulf state-backed takeover of the Telegraph newspaper group.

It comes as Lucy Frazer prepares to reveal a decision on the viability of a deal, amid concerns over how it could have an impact on free speech and accurate representation of the news.

Last year, Abu Dhabi-backed fund RedBird IMI reached a deal with previous Telegraph owners, the Barclay family, to take control of the newspaper group, and fellow publication The Spectator, by paying off debts owed to their bank, Lloyds.

RedBird IMI is an investment fund majority-owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, vice president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and owner of Manchester City Football Club.

Cabinet meeting
Lucy Frazer is Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport (Lucy North/PA)

Shortly after the deal was announced, Ms Frazer confirmed the Government had triggered a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) to investigate its potential impact on press freedom.

In January, the Culture Secretary was forced to launch a fresh intervention after the proposed owner announced a new corporate structure for its takeover.

As part of the new process, Ms Frazer asked media regulator Ofcom and competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), to hand over the findings of their probes by Monday.

Both organisations confirmed they have passed this to the minister.

A CMA spokeswoman said: “We have submitted our reports assessing competition in the Telegraph/Redbird IMI deal to Government and it’s now with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to review our findings and make a decision on next steps.”

An Ofcom spokesman said: “We have provided our advice to the Secretary of State in accordance with the deadline that she has set.”

On Monday, Labour’s shadow culture secretary called for the deal to be blocked.

Thangam Debbonaire told The Spectator that the view of the party “is that foreign governments should not own national newspapers.

“This is a bid by a foreign power, funded by the deputy prime minister of the UAE, and as such this bid should not pass.”

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