Britain to seek ban on foreign state ownership of British newspapers

London:

Britain announced on Wednesday it plans to bar foreign governments from owning British newspapers, a move that could derail the Abu Dhabi-led takeover of Telegraph Media Group.

Media Minister Stephen Parkinson said the Conservative government was “committed” to amending the proposed law so it would “prevent foreign state ownership of newspapers”.

This is the result of pressure over the proposed acquisition of The Daily Telegraph paper and Spectator magazine by a joint venture 75 percent owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE.

Redbird IMI – a joint venture between US firm Redbird Capital and Abu Dhabi’s International Media Investments – struck a ₹1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) deal with TMG’s owners, the Barclay family, in November.

The agreement saw Redbird IMI repay the bank loan in exchange for control of the media group.

The announcement caused an uproar in British media circles and the UK government immediately launched a formal investigation into the sale on public interest grounds.

The takeover plan has caused concern among some MPs in the ruling Conservative Party, which has long had close ideological ties to the right-wing Telegraph titles.

They have also created concerns about the freedom of staff and press workers.

Redbird IMI is majority owned by Sheikh Mansour, who also owns Manchester City Football Club.

Redbird is run by former CNN president Jeff Zucker, who has said that Mansour will be a “passive investor” and that the acquisition will be “American-led”.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)