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Loans pave way for Abu Dhabi-backed fund to take over UK's Telegraph newspaper

LONDON (AP) — An Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund said Monday it has paved the way to take ownership of Britain's Telegraph newspaper and The Spectator magazine after striking a deal with the publications' previous owners to repay debts owed by them.

RedBird IMI — a joint venture between RedBird Capital and Abu Dhabi’s International Media Investments, and led by former CNN chief Jeff Zucker — said it has agreed to provide loans to Britain’s Barclay family and ensure the family’s debts to Lloyds Bank are paid.

The Barclay family owned the right-leaning newspaper and magazine nefore they were put into receivership. The family also previously owned London's luxurious Ritz Hotel before selling it in 2020.

Earlier in the year, Lloyds Bank hired a restructuring specialist as receivers to control and help launch a sale process for the media business in order to repay debts worth some 1 billion pounds ($1.25 billion).

Various media firms have been reported to be interested in taking over the publications, including German publisher Axel Springer and the Daily Mail's publisher.

RedBird IMI said Monday that it would provide a loan of up to 600 million pounds ($751 million), secured against the publications, with International Media Investments also providing a similar loan against other Barclay-linked assets.

The fund said the deal includes an option to turn the loans into equity which would give it ownership control of the newspaper and magazine.

“Any transfer of ownership will, of course, be subject to regulatory review, and we will continue to cooperate fully with the government and the regulator,” Redbird IMI said in a statement.

Lenders for the Barclay family would need to agree to the deal, which is expected to attract a high level of political scrutiny.