June 16, 2024

UAE pledges unmatchable investment in The Telegraph

Despite its wealth, senior editorial managers and writers have raised concerns over the involvement of IMI, which is effectively an arm of the state. It is controlled by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the vice-president of the UAE and owner of Manchester City.

The proposed takeover is currently in limbo pending an investigation of its potential threat to the public interest by Ofcom. The media regulator is scheduled to deliver its report to the Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer by 11 March. She could then order months of further investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which could ultimately lead to the deal being blocked.

Mr Raad, a former CNN executive and close ally of Jeff Zucker, the head of RedBird IMI, again set out undertakings which they argue will protect The Telegraph from any UAE interference. They include an editorial trust board and legal guarantees that IMI will be a passive investor only.

RedBird, a US private equity firm providing 25pc of the £600m price, would be responsible for the management of The Telegraph.

Mr Raad said that The Times editorial board, established when Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper in 1981 and intended to protect it from his influence, was viewed as ineffective until it was scrapped in 2022. But he argued that the Telegraph editorial trust board would have real powers backed by the law.

Mr Raad said: “We all know that in the past promises were made, only to be broken almost before the ink on the newsprint was dry.

“We have learned the lessons of News Corp, when promises were made that were never fully kept about The Times. Ours meet the far higher standard of enforceability.”

IMI faces cross-party opposition in Parliament, including from Sir Iaan Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, who has warned that state ownership of a significant news outlet would set “dangerous precedent for other democracies”.

This week Fraser Nelson, the editor of The Spectator, appeared before a Lords select committee. He urged an amendment to the Media Bill, which is making its way through Parliament, to outlaw media ownership by foreign states.

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