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The outgoing chief of Ofsted is among the candidates for one of the biggest jobs in British broadcasting after being included on the shortlist to chair the BBC.

Sky News has learnt that Amanda Spielman, who has spent nearly seven years as the education watchdog’s chief inspector, is in the frame to replace Richard Sharp as the Corporation’s long-term chairman.

Industry sources said that Ms Spielman was one of about eight contenders for the job, with the preferred candidate subject to sign-off from the prime minister.

Her involvement in the process will come as a surprise given that her recent career has been spent in regulating aspects of Britain’s education sector.

Prior to Ofsted, Ms Spielman chaired the exam regulator, Ofqual, for five years, before which she had spent 15 years in finance, strategy and consulting roles.

She is also a trustee of the Victoria & Albert Museum, while Samir Shah, one of the other contenders for the BBC chairmanship, has also served on the board of the London museum.

Ms Spielman is due to leave Ofsted next month, and in a recent interview with The Times said that the fact that she had not been a teacher had not hindered her work there.

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“Nobody expects the chief executive of CAA to have been a pilot or the chief executive of the Office of Rail and Road to be a train driver or a lorry driver,” she told the newspaper.

Sky News revealed earlier this month that Mr Shah was also on the shortlist for the job.

He has more of a media pedigree, having been on the board of the BBC and spent decades in television programme-making.

The search for a successor to Mr Sharp, who resigned in April amid a row over his role in helping to facilitate a six-figure loan to Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, is expected to be concluded in the next few months.

Interviews for the post recently got under way, with more than a handful of contenders still in the frame to take on one of the most prestigious posts in the British media industry.

A number of prominent business and media figures have, however, declined to apply.

Sir Damon Buffini, the deputy chairman and chair of the BBC’s commercial arm, was expected to be the frontrunner for the job, but is reported not to have thrown his hat into the ring.

Other prominent media executives, including Sir Peter Bazalgette, the former ITV chairman, have publicly ruled themselves out.

Dame Elan Closs Stephens, the acting chair, is thought to be in the frame to take the post on a permanent basis.

The appointment of Mr Sharp’s long-term successor will come at a sensitive time for the BBC, which has been plunged into a series of crises this year involving current and former presenters – including the newsreader Huw Edwards and Russell Brand.

It has also been grappling with a long-running challenge over the impartiality guidelines to which it expects its broadcasters – such as the Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker – to adhere.

Those sensitivities are likely to become even more acute during the next year with a general election on the horizon.

Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, is grappling with longer-term questions about the corporation’s future funding model, with recent culture secretaries such as Nadine Dorries having signalled the end of the licence fee after 2027.

The broadcaster has been forced to implement significant cost cuts affecting parts of its news and current affairs output, including long-running programmes such as BBC 2’s Newsnight.

Saxton Bampfylde, the headhunter, is overseeing the search for the BBC chair.

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesman declined to comment.

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CBI faces autumn deadline to refinance rescue funding

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CBI faces autumn deadline to refinance rescue funding

The CBI faces a deadline next September to refinance millions of pounds of funding put in place to avert its collapse during the autumn.

Sky News has learnt that a seven-figure facility put in place with banks will expire at the end of the third quarter next year.

While the size of the facility is unclear, sources have said it is likely to be several million pounds.

According to the business lobby group’s annual report and accounts, which was circulated to members late last week, it was able to survive the aftermath of a sexual misconduct scandal “through the backing of key members, the use of reserves, support from creditors and with bank financing”.

“The bank financing is due to terminate on 30 September 2024, after which it is the board’s current intention to look to renew the facility if required.

“The exceptional costs from the past year have now been paid and the organisation has been reshaped so that salary costs are appropriate given the expected level of income.”

On Friday, Sky News revealed that the CBI was urging members to swallow a further rise in fees even as it battles to regain its former standing among political and business leaders.

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Members will be asked at its annual meeting this week to approve a 5% rise in their subscription costs.

Self-styled as “the voice of British business”, the CBI has been slowly rebuilding its reputation, staging a slimmed-down version of its annual conference last month which featured an address by Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor.

The group has been slashing costs by axeing a chunk of its workforce and closing most of its overseas offices following several rape allegations against former employees, which triggered an exodus of corporate members including Aviva and John Lewis Partnership.

Tony Danker, its director-general – who was accused of inappropriate behaviour but had nothing to do with the more serious allegations – stepped down in April weeks after being suspended.

The CBI briefly entertained autumn talks about a merger with Make UK, the manufacturers’ body, but these have now been curtailed.

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Abu Dhabi state-backed fund moves to take control of Daily Telegraph

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Abu Dhabi state-backed fund moves to take control of Daily Telegraph

An Abu Dhabi state-backed vehicle has moved closer to taking full control of The Daily Telegraph just hours after the launch of a regulatory probe that prevents it from removing key journalists from their posts.

Sky News has learnt that RedBird IMI has given the newspaper’s board and the government notice of its intention to activate a call option that will convert loans secured against the Telegraph titles and Spectator magazine into shares.

The move was communicated to key stakeholders late on Friday, and came as nearly £1.2bn was being transferred to an escrow account prior to its release to Lloyds Banking Group early next week.

A Whitehall source confirmed this weekend that the government had been notified about RedBird IMI’s move to exercise its option to take control of the shares.

A person close to the Abu Dhabi-based investor, which declined to comment formally, said it had already made it clear that it would seek to convert the loans “at an early opportunity”.

The activation of the call option does not mean the broadsheets fall under the immediate control of RedBird IMI, insiders pointed out on Saturday.

Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) on Thursday which has triggered an inquiry by Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority.

Pressure has been mounting in recent weeks from Conservative politicians for the takeover of the traditionally Tory-supporting Telegraph newspapers by a foreign state-backed entity to be probed under public interest and national security laws.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Hague of Richmond, two former leaders of the party, have been among those who have called for scrutiny of the deal.

RedBird IMI has insisted that it would preserve the newspapers’ editorial independence and offered to give the government a legally binding assurance of this intention.

RedBird IMI has also pledged not to complete the acquisition of the media assets until it has received government approval.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer leaving Number 10 Downing Street, London, after a Cabinet meeting. Picture date: Tuesday June 20, 2023.
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Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer

On Friday, Ms Frazer confirmed a Sky News report that she would preserve the independence of the Telegraph during the investigations by making an Interim Enforcement Order preventing the Barclay family or RedBird IMI from interfering in their operation.

The IEO prohibits the removal or transfer of key Daily Telegraph journalists or any further change of ownership.

Both the family and RedBird IMI have agreed to the restrictions.

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The notice of the intention to exercise the call option takes two of Britain’s most influential newspapers a stage closer to a change of ownership for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The Barclay family, which has owned the Telegraph since 2004, has been in dispute with Lloyds for years about the repayment of a £700m loan and hundreds of millions of pounds in interest.

Sky News revealed on Friday that Lloyds is preparing to distribute a £500m-plus windfall to its shareholders next year as a result of its ability to recover a loan in full that it had long since regarded as impaired.

Ms Frazer is seeking regulators’ responses before the end of January, after which the takeover of the broadsheet newspapers could be approved or blocked.

RedBird IMI is funded in large part by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the owner of Manchester City, has agreed that a trio of independent directors, led by the Openreach chairman Mike McTighe, will remain in place while the inquiries is carried out.

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RedBird IMI’s move to fund the loan redemption has circumvented an auction of the Telegraph titles which has drawn interest from a range of bidders.

The hedge fund billionaire and GB News shareholder Sir Paul Marshall had been agitating for the launch of a PIIN.

The Telegraph auction, which has also drawn interest from the Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere and National World, a London-listed local newspaper publisher, is now effectively over.

Until June, the newspapers were chaired by Aidan Barclay – the nephew of Sir Frederick Barclay, the octogenarian who along with his late twin Sir David engineered the takeover of the Telegraph in 2004.

Lloyds had been locked in talks with the Barclays for years about refinancing loans made to them by HBOS prior to that bank’s rescue during the 2008 banking crisis.

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Struggling CBI to impose 5% fee increase on members

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CBI faces autumn deadline to refinance rescue funding

The CBI is urging members to swallow a further rise in fees even as the lobby group battles to regain its former standing among political and business leaders.

Sky News understands that CBI members will be asked at its annual meeting next week to approve a 5% rise in their subscription costs.

It comes less than three months after the organisation – which styles itself as ‘the voice of British business’ – won a lifeline from banks which agreed to provide sufficient funding to avert collapse in the aftermath of a sexual misconduct scandal.

The CBI has been slowly rebuilding its reputation, staging a slimmed-down version of its annual conference last month which featured an address by Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor.

In a circular to members, it said the fee hike was in line with previous years.

However, the group has been slashing costs by axeing a chunk of its workforce and closing most of its overseas offices in an attempt to restore its finances to a more stable footing.

Read more:
Frazer to prohibit removal of key Telegraph staff during probe
Lloyds shareholders could reap £500m bonanza from Telegraph deal

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The crisis which erupted earlier this year, which followed several rape allegations against former employees, triggered an exodus of corporate members including Aviva and John Lewis Partnership.

Tony Danker, its director-general – who was accused of inappropriate behaviour but had nothing to do with the more serious allegations – stepped down in April weeks after being suspended.

The CBI briefly entertained talks about a merger with Make UK, the manufacturers’ body, but these have now been curtailed.

The business group declined to comment on Friday, although an insider said it was “standard operating practice…to adjust prices for inflation”.

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