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UK’s new media law threatens UAE’s Telegraph bid

The UK government will pass a law to block takeovers of UK newspapers by entities linked to foreign governments Reuters/Belinda Jiao
The UK government will look to pass a law to block takeovers of UK newspapers by entities linked to foreign governments

A likely decision by the UK to ban foreign governments from owning British newspapers and news magazines is being seen as a setback for a UAE-backed investment company’s bid to buy the Telegraph newspaper titles.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay announced the ban on Wednesday, saying a new law will “rule out newspaper and periodical news magazine mergers involving ownership, influence or control by foreign states”.

The London government will bring forward an amendment to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill – which has its third reading next week – to block such deals, he said.



The move comes as RedBird IMI, which is backed by the UAE government, seeks to take control of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph newspaper titles, as well as the Spectator current affairs magazine, after paying off the debts of its previous owner. The Spectator and the Telegraph titles have traditionally backed the governing Conservative Party.

A spokesperson for RedBird IMI told the BBC it was “extremely disappointed by today’s development” but “remain committed” to investing in global media.

The company has invested in six ventures across the UK and the US.

“We believe the UK’s media environment was worthy of further investment,” the spokesperson said.

Other bidders for the newspapers include Sir Paul Marshall, a hedge fund tycoon who owns GB News, DMGT, the owners of Daily Mail, another newspaper, and Rupert Murdoch’s News UK.

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