RedBird IMI opens bids for its sale of UK's Telegraph newspaper

Telegraph Media Group sale

LONDON (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi-backed RedBird IMI said on Friday it had opened bids for its sale of the Telegraph and Spectator, having reversed its decision to acquire the right-leaning newspaper group after the government intervened.

"We can confirm that prospective owners are now able to submit their initial bids from today (June 21)," a RedBird IMI spokesperson said.

"This has been a thorough process which involved speaking to interested parties from around the globe and it is no surprise that interest has remained extremely strong."

RedBird IMI effectively took control of the Telegraph and the Spectator magazine in December when it repaid a debt owed by its then-owner, the Barclay family, to Lloyds Bank, including a 600 million pound ($753 million) loan against the titles.

But the acquisition, which already faced a lengthy regulatory inquiry, was dealt a blow in March when Britain said it would stop foreign governments owning newspapers.

RedBird IMI's sale of the titles is expected to conclude later this year.

Potential bidders, according to previous reports, include hedge fund owner Paul Marshall; DMGT, which owns the Daily Mail; Belgian Group Mediahuis; and National World.

Telegraph Media Group on Wednesday revealed a 278 million pound hole in its accounts for 2023 related to loans extracted by the Barclays, which it said may not be recovered.

A provision against the sum resulted in the group recording a loss for the year of 244.6 million pounds, despite growth in subscriptions, revenue and adjusted operating profit. The latter grew 35% to 54.2 million pounds.

The Telegraph and the Spectator have been moved to a new holding company to ring-fence them from any liabilities pertaining to the Barclays.

RedBird IMI, led by former CNN executive Jeff Zucker, is backed by Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family and the owner of Manchester City soccer club. (This story has been refiled to capitalise the 'B' in 'RedBird' in paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Andy Bruce and Paul Sandle; Editing by Kevin Liffey)