Broadcaster GB News in talks to raise £30m from investors

Business

GB News, the right-leaning current affairs broadcaster, is in talks to raise tens of millions of pounds even as it contends with a string of probes by Ofcom, the media regulator.

Sky News has learnt that GB News’ parent company, All Perspectives Limited, is targeting a fundraising worth in the region of £30m in the coming months, with discussions already under way about a transaction.

This weekend, City sources said the new funding would probably be injected by existing investors, who are led by the hedge fund billionaire Sir Paul Marshall.

GB News, which competes with Sky News and others including the BBC, launched in 2021 and rapidly built its profile by employing a controversial slate of politicians and firebrand presenters, as well as industry veterans from other broadcasters.

Its most prominent regular presenter is Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader who is currently appearing on the ITV entertainment programme I’m A Celebrity.

Nigel Farage
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Nigel Farage

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson exits the UK COVID-19 inquiry on the second day of questioning to examine the response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic before the country's second national lockdown in November 2020, in London, Britain December 7, 2023. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska
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Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson exits the UK COVID-19 inquiry on the second day of questioning to examine the response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic before the country’s second national lockdown in November 2020, in Londo

Next month, Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, will join its roster of presenters and commentators to add to his regular column for the Daily Mail.

Responding to an enquiry from Sky News, Angelos Frangopoulos, GB News’ chief executive, said: “GB News is in an accelerated growth phase, beating targets across its platforms.

“We are always evaluating strategic and investment opportunities.”

The company declined to say where the new funding would come from.

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The latest GB News capital-raising comes about 15 months after one of the channel’s original shareholders, the US media giant Discovery, sold its 25% stake for £8m.

It had acquired the shareholding in 2020, prior to GB News’ launch, for £20m, implying a 60% reduction in the company’s value at the time.

As part of the Discovery sale transaction, GB News secured £60m of new investment from Legatum Ventures and Sir Paul, who co-founded Marshall Wace, one of London’s most successful hedge funds.

It was unclear on Saturday at what valuation the new capital would be injected.

Boasts about growth at broadcaster

GB News boasts that it is now Britain’s fastest-growing news website, citing figures this week suggesting that its digital audience had risen by nearly 60% in November.

“The numbers prove GB News is simply in touch with British audiences and what matters to them,” Geoff Marsh, its chief digital officer, said.

“Aside from television and our website, we have the fastest-growing news radio station and the fastest-growing news app in the country,” he said.

“On YouTube, we’ve topped a billion views – it took ITV News 17 years to achieve that.”

GB News has in recent weeks launched a paid-for membership service which gives subscribers access to additional content behind a paywall and other benefits.

The broadcaster is currently grappling with more than half a dozen Ofcom investigations, some of which relate to the way it has used serving politicians, such as Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg.

TalkTV, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s British media portfolio, has also employed serving MPs – including the Conservative Nadine Dorries – as presenters, while LBC, the radio station, has also frequently done so.

The watchdog is also probing a September broadcast involving Dan Wootton and Laurence Fox which sparked a sexism row and thousands of complaints.

Mr Wootton has since been suspended, while Mr Fox was sacked in early October.

gb news
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Dan Wootton and Laurence Fox

Backdrop of fight for control at Telegraph

The timing of GB News’ efforts to raise in the region of £30m from new investors is intriguing because of the ongoing battle for control of The Daily Telegraph.

Sir Paul, who founded the online opinion platform Unherd, is among the suitors for the broadsheet newspaper, which is now the subject of a government-commissioned public interest inquiry.

RedBird IMI, a joint venture majority-owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is preparing to take control of the Telegraph after exercising an option to convert £600m of a loan to the Barclay family – the newspaper’s long-standing owners – into equity ownership.

Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority will submit their reports to Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, before the end of January.

The RedBird IMI deal has sparked opposition from Tory MPs and peers, including the former party leaders Lord Hague and Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who have argued that the UAE’s record on free speech and freedom of expression make the Abu Dhabi ruling family unfit owners of major British newspapers.

Sir Paul is expected to argue that case forcefully in a formal submission to Ofcom next week.

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