Telegraph finance chief to leave amid Abu Dhabi deal probe

The finance chief of The Daily Telegraph’s mother or father firm is to depart amid a government-commissioned probe into the newspaper’s takeover by a state-backed Abu Dhabi funding car.

Sky News has learnt that Cormac O’Shea, who has been Telegraph Media Group’s (TMG) chief monetary officer for the reason that autumn of 2021, is prone to step down within the subsequent couple of months.

This weekend, insiders mentioned the impartial administrators of the broadsheets’ holding firm – who have been initially appointed by receivers and have stayed on to supervise the Telegraph’s sale – had written to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to hunt approval for the appointment of a successor.

Under the phrases of a public curiosity intervention discover (PIIN) issued by Lucy Frazer, the tradition secretary, late final month, the potential homeowners of the Telegraph, RedBird IMI, are prohibited from exerting any affect over the titles whereas investigations by the competitors and media regulators are ongoing.

That consists of the removing of key executives and editorial workers or any try to merge the Telegraph with different property.

TMG’s administrators may appoint an interim successor to Mr O’Shea or may decide to run a seek for a everlasting alternative, with a protracted inquiry into the Abu Dhabi takeover trying more and more possible, in line with media analysts.

The exact causes for Mr O’Shea’s departure have been unclear this weekend, whereas it was additionally unclear whether or not he had been get together to a pool of retention funds designed to encourage key workers to stay on the writer whereas the sale course of was ongoing.

Mr O’Shea is essentially the most senior government to this point to have signalled their departure for the reason that Telegraph’s holding firm was compelled into receivership by Lloyds Banking Group earlier this 12 months.

The excessive avenue lender successfully ousted the Barclay household as homeowners of two of Britain’s most influential newspapers after almost 20 years, following a long-running dispute over the reimbursement of a £1.16bn debt.

The loans and curiosity have been repaid earlier this month after the Barclay household structured a cope with RedBird IMI, which is majority-owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the last word proprietor of Manchester City Football Club.

Spearheaded by Jeff Zucker, the previous CNN president, RedBird IMI has notified the impartial administrators of its intention to train an choice to convert £600m of the funding supplied to the Barclays from debt into fairness possession of the Telegraph.

The the rest of the mortgage is secured towards different, unspecified, Barclay-owned property.

RedBird IMI’s plans have sparked uproar amongst many Conservative MPs and friends who’ve argued that handing management of the historically Tory-supporting broadsheets may undermine media freedom.

Quite a few distinguished Telegraph journalists and columnists have additionally used the newspapers’ pages to marketing campaign towards the takeover.

The Competition and Markets Authority and Ofcom have till late subsequent month to report again to Ms Frazer on the deal.

Mr O’Shea is an skilled finance government in worldwide media companies transitioning to digital working fashions, together with JPI Media, the regional newspaper enterprise which owns The Scotsman, and Clear Channel International.

He doesn’t sit on the board of TMG.

The Telegraph’s future stays mired in uncertainty, which is prone to be exacerbated if the RedBird IMI deal collapses.

Sources have solid doubt over whether or not the Barclays could be allowed to regain any affect of the titles in that situation.

The Times reported this month that TMG’s impartial administrators had alerted Whitehall to attainable irregularities within the accounts of the household’s media property.

To complicate issues additional, the chief government of Ofcom will stay recused from a probe into the Telegraph takeover as a result of her husband is an government at Lloyds.

Dame Melanie Dawes, who has run the media regulator since 2020, will play no half in its investigation into RedBird IMI’s proposed cope with the broadsheet titles due to her marriage to Ben Brogan, the financial institution’s public affairs chief.

RedBird IMI is however persevering with preparations to take management of the newspapers, together with The Spectator journal.

The UAE-based car has insisted that it could protect the newspapers’ editorial independence and supplied to present the federal government a legally binding assurance of this intention.

The Barclay household, which has owned the Telegraph since 2004, had been in dispute with Lloyds for years in regards to the reimbursement of a £700m mortgage and tons of of hundreds of thousands of kilos in curiosity.

RedBird IMI’s transfer to fund the mortgage redemption circumvented an public sale of the Telegraph which drew curiosity from a variety of bidders.

The hedge fund billionaire and GB News shareholder Sir Paul Marshall, Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere and National World, a London-listed native newspaper writer, had all employed advisers to assemble affords for the newspapers.

A spokesman for TMG declined to touch upon Mr O’Shea’s impending departure, whereas the DCMS additionally declined to remark.