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Iger-Peltz Vulcan Chess, Zucker’s Thesis & Elon EBITDA

The nascent Bob Iger-Nelson Peltz proxy war is gearing up to be far more feisty than their first encounter almost a year ago.
The nascent Bob Iger-Nelson Peltz proxy war is gearing up to be far more feisty than their first encounter almost a year ago. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
December 3, 2023

On Friday, the cash changed hands. Jeff Zucker’s RedBird IMI and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, one of his partners in the deal for The Telegraph and The Spectator, wired their respective millions—totaling some $1.4 billion—to the Barclay family, which then presumably paid off their debt, in full, to Lloyds Bank. The auction to sell both The Telegraph and The Spectator is also presumably over, or on hiatus, pending the outcome of the U.K. regulatory review of the foreign money in the deal. To that end, RedBird IMI also exercised its option to buy the two publications from the Barclay family. 

As a source close to Zucker told me, RedBird IMI is paying about $750 million, or 10x 2023 EBITDA, for the two publications. That’s not a bargain price by any means, but it’s a lot less than what appeared to be the sticker price of 20x EBITDA that had been floating around before the price got clarified. Instead, it seems like the RedBird guys will move forward with the number they could get to in the room, and the other $650 million will come from Sheikh Mansour in the form of a separate loan to the Barclays, secured by other of their assets. Three things are clear with this structure: Zucker wants the deal, his boss Gerry Cardinale wants the deal, and so does the sheikh.