Foreign state control of British news organisations to be outlawed in bid to ‘block’ UAE takeover of The Telegraph

13 March 2024, 18:02 | Updated: 13 March 2024, 18:37

The Sunday Telegraph
The Sunday Telegraph. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The foreign state control of British newspapers will be outlawed as the government attempts to 'block' a UEA-led takeover of The Telegraph.

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An amendment to the Digital Markets Bill is expected to block UK newspaper and news magazine mergers taking place if where there proposed influence, involvement or control by foreign states.

It means the bid by RedBird IMI for the Telegraph, which is backed 75 per cent by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, would not be legal.

The amendment does not completely block any foreign state from funding takeovers, though this must amount only to a minority interest, The Telegraph reports.

That means RedBird IMI could still take over the Telegraph if the UAE stake is reduced.

Read More: Regulators hand findings from Telegraph takeover probes to Government

Read More: Telegraph suitor to buy Traitors and Fleabag maker for £1.15bn

Current legislation dictates that the threshold for a stake to be considered controlling is 25 per cent, though it is not known if further clarification will be given in the new law.

The amendment is expected to come into play as soon as the Digital Markets Bill is passed by Parliament and given Royal assent.

The change could happen as soon as April, the publication reports.

It is also not yet known if UK newspapers that already have part-ownership from foreign states will be impacted.

It follows pressure on the government to block foreign states from taking over news publications in the UK, a move supported by dozens of MPs.

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