Now he is looking abroad for a big return to the news business.
The Telegraph went up for auction this year after its owners, the Barclay family, defaulted on a loan. Sometimes called The Torygraph for its influence on British conservative politics, the newspaper attracted powerful suitors such as Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere, owner of London’s Daily Mail.
The auction was halted on Tuesday after Zucker’s proposal, which hinges on roughly 1.1 billion pounds, or about $1.4 billion, from RedBird IMI, the media company he founded last year, and a major fund. investment firm based in Abu Dhabi. After a series of financial maneuvers, RedBird would assume ownership and management of The Telegraph and The Spectator. Redbird IMI said its Emirati partner would be a passive investor.
Zucker declined to comment, citing pending negotiations. But his vision for The Telegraph includes a possible expansion into the United States, where Zucker believes a market has emerged for a center-right news publication, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking who requested anonymity because the deal was not finalized. .
Zucker does not plan to oversee day-to-day news coverage, the person said. Instead, he will focus on The Telegraph’s commercial strategy and developing its overseas presence; He will not move to London. Still, Zucker has a reputation as a hands-on manager, dating back to his 20s, when he ran NBC’s “Today” show; He later became CEO of NBCUniversal before being forced to resign in 2011.
The deal could still fail and regulatory hurdles await.
RedBird IMI is a joint venture between RedBird Capital, a private equity firm, and a private investment fund run by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, an Emirati royal. The involvement of Middle Eastern interests has raised concerns among MPs about foreign influence on the British media. In a letter to regulators, six Conservative Party politicians warned that RedBird IMI’s proposal “represents a potential threat to press freedom in this country.” Any deal could trigger greater government scrutiny.