Failed CNN boss Jeff Zucker still wants to stay in the media game. To that end he is leading an offer to buy the bankrupt British publishing group behind the Daily Telegraph newspaper and Spectator magazine.
The New York Post reports Zucker, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi-backed investment group RedBird IMI, is ready to pitch $750 million to the Barclay family that would allow them to repay their nearly $1.4 billion debt to Lloyds Banking Group.
RedBird, a venture capital firm that has $1 billion in capital, would then have an option to convert the loan secured against the mainstay conservative publications into equity, Financial Times reported on Monday.
Lloyds seized the publications in June from the the Barclay brothers — Sir David and Sir Frederick — who bought the titles from Canada’s Conrad Black in 2004 for $1.3 billion.
If Lloyds agrees to the proposal, the deal will mark the end of the Barclay family ownership of the Telegraph, a conservative broadsheet founded in 1855, and the Spectator, which has been published weekly since 1828.
“RedBird IMI are entirely committed to maintaining the existing editorial team of the Telegraph and Spectator publications, and believe that editorial independence for these titles is essential to protecting their reputation and credibility,” a rep for RedBird IMI told the UK PressGazette.
According to Sky News, the Barclays now have a formal deadline of 1 December to seal the deal and repay the £1.16bn they owe Lloyds or their holding company could be liquidated.
Zucker resigned from CNN in February 2022 after it was revealed he had an inappropriate relationship with one of his subordinates, Allison Gollust, the network’s chief marketing officer and has been on the hunt for deals ever since.
In June amid growing speculation that Warner Bros. Discovery may sell CNN in the coming year, sources said Zucker is “likely” to make a bid to purchase the network.
“Jeff is likely going to make a bid this fall to purchase,” a source with knowledge told the New York Post, continuing “Zucker sees an opportunity to take the helm of CNN ahead of the 2024 presidential election.”
Nothing has come of the rumor since.
Zucker has also reportedly also been eyeing other media properties, including the Washington Post, Semafor, Puck and Air Mail — the media company founded by former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.
He has yet to announce any deals with those properties, either, with critics saying the rumored purchases are simply attempts by Zucker to stay relevant and in the news cycle.