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Ofcom has been notified of a potential acquisition of The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Spectator by an entity backed by Abu Dhabi.
The Barclay family has been seeking to offload their publications to a group of investors. However, on Thursday, culture secretary Lucy Frazer issued a PIIN regarding the bid.
On Wednesday, 18 Members of Parliament from the Conservative party sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, requesting that he utilize national security measures to evaluate the potential sale.
Government officials requested intervention following the acquisition of the publications by RedBird IMI, an investment fund owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s vice-president. Members of Parliament expressed concern that the deal could pose a significant threat to national security.
The members of parliament expressed their belief that government officials should not be forced to approve the change in ownership without careful consideration. They suggest taking a break from the deal in order to assess its potential effects on national security and freedom of the press in Britain.
Ofcom has been requested to examine if the agreement would violate stipulations such as “the obligation to report news accurately and allow for the expression of opinions in newspapers.”
Amnesty International, a charity focused on protecting human rights, has expressed worry about the potential consequences for media freedom if the sale goes through. The opposing members of parliament stated that the transaction could jeopardize the publications’ ability to report without restrictions, which could pose a threat to national security.
When asked to respond to the letter, RedBird pointed to remarks by head of the fund Jeff Zucker, who told the Telegraph on Tuesday that concerns over the takeover were “misplaced”.
Mr Zucker stated that the Telegraph’s editorial independence is assured.
During the past two months, the Barclay family has submitted multiple plans to repay approximately £1 billion of debt owed to the high street bank. These proposals have mostly been offered at a considerable discount compared to the original amount.
Until June, the newspapers were chaired by Aidan Barclay, the nephew of Sir Frederick Barclay, the octogenarian who along with late brother Sir David engineered the takeover of the Telegraph 19 years ago.