Culture and media secretary Lucy Frazer has announced she is intervening in the sale of the Telegraph Media Group (TMG) as the Barclay family attempt to buy back their papers with foreign money.
Frazer has issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN), which now triggers watchdog inquiries into the potential ownership of the newspaper by an Abu Dhabi royal.
In an announcement late this afternoon, Frazer said: “My Department has today written to the Barclay family and RedBird IMI, the current and proposed owners of Telegraph Media Group (TMG), to inform them that I will be issuing a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) in relation to the anticipated acquisition of the Telegraph Media Group Ltd (TMG) by Redbird IMI.”
Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) must report back to Frazer by 26 January 2024.
The Barclay family is trying to buy back their papers. They lost control of the titles earlier this year when they failed to pay £1.2bn in debt to Lloyds bank.
Their repurchase attempt is being funded by Redbird IMI, a media and sports fund owned partly by a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family and owner of Manchester City football club, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
But some MPs have expressed concern about the prospect of a national paper falling into the lap of a foreign owner.
Simon Neill, head of competition UK at London law firm Osborne Clarke, said a PIIN is “primarily designed to ensure there remains a sufficient diversity of views being expressed in newspapers both nationally and locally.”