RedBird IMI has confirmed it is supporting the Barclay family’s attempt to reclaim ownership of the Telegraph, a loan package that includes an option to let it take control of the paper.

The media investment vehicle, which is a joint venture between RedBird Capital Partners and the United Arab Emirates-based International Media Investments, said in a statement Monday that it had agreed to loan the Barclay family £600m ($750m), secured against the Telegraph newspaper and Spectator magazine.

Separately, IMI will lend a further £600m secured against other Barclay family businesses and commercial interests. IMI is a private investment vehicle for Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to a spokesman for RedBird IMI.

“Under the terms of this agreement, RedBird IMI has an option to convert the loan secured against the Telegraph and Spectator into equity, and intends to exercise this option at an early opportunity,” the investment vehicle said in a statement.

“Following transfer of ownership, RedBird Capital alone will take over management and operational responsibility for the titles under the leadership of RedBird IMI Chief Executive Jeff Zucker,” the statement said, referring to the former president of CNN. “International Media Investments will be a passive investor only.”

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Lloyds Banking Group Plc seized the Telegraph titles along with the Spectator magazine from the Barclay family in June to claw back debts, removing Barclay family members from their director positions and placing the businesses in receivership. The RedBird IMI loan is aimed at paying the Barclay family debt owed to Lloyds.

Still, RedBird IMI’s statement will likely heighten concern among Conservative lawmakers, who are pushing the UK government to scrutinize the UAE’s involvement. Lawmakers have described any possible influence of the UAE royal family over the Telegraph as “a risk to our national security,” citing its record on press freedom and position on Israel.

The prospect of foreign influence on the politically influential title has already raised concerns among senior ministers including Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat, Bloomberg News reported Saturday.

Source: BNN Bloomberg

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