A joint venture between US investment firm Redbird and Abu Dhabi’s media investment fund IMI revealed on Monday that it had agreed with the Barclays family to repay its debts to Lloyds bank, making it clear that it is on track to acquire the control of the media group with flagship conservative newspaper The Telegraph.

In a statement released on Monday, RedBird IMI announced that it had “signed an agreement” to service the Barclay family’s loans to Lloyds bank “in their entirety”, i.e. up to the amount of 1.2 billion pounds.

The British bank Lloyds, a creditor of the Barclays, put the Telegraph group, a flagship title of the British conservative press, up for sale in October to cover the heavy debts accumulated by the family it has owned since 2004.

The daily, its Sunday edition and the Spectator magazine, which is owned by the same group, will thus emerge from the liquidation situation that Lloyds placed the media into in June.

The RedBird IMI consortium will provide the Barclays with a “£600m loan” to support the Telegraph and Spectator, and a further loan of around the same value to support “other companies and commercial interests of the family”.

Lloyds is studying the financing deal, according to an AFP source familiar with the matter, and the sale process is otherwise ongoing.

According to the same source, the process may take weeks.

If Lloyds approves RedBird IMI’s debt repayment offer, the consortium will become the owner of the Telegraph media group.

As the prospect of the Abu Dhabi fund acquiring one of Britain’s most influential media groups worries some Conservative MPs, the press release insists that “only RedBird Capital will have management control and operational responsibility for the titles, under the administration of RedBird IMI CEO Jeff Zucker,” the former head of CNN.

“International Media Investments (IMI) will simply be a passive investor,” the announcement assures.

Investment fund RedBird IMI said it intended to keep the directors of both the Telegraph and the Spectator in place, as it considered it “essential” to maintain “the editorial independence of the titles” to defend their “reputation and credibility”. , during his announcement. He also noted that the acquisition is subject to the approval of the British supervisory bodies.

Last month, an AFP source familiar with the matter said there were other potential buyers for the group, including Germany’s Axel Springer Group (which notably publishes the Bild tabloid), as well as rival DMGT Group, which owns more than all right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail’s headline.

Twin brothers Frederick and David Barclay (father of Howard and Aidan Barclay, deceased in 2021) had bought the group in 2004, for a price of 665 million pounds (about 763 million euros).