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August 18, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:13am

GB News secures £60m investment amid WarnerBros Discovery buyout

By Charlotte Tobitt

GB News said it has received a commitment for £60 million in new investment in an ownership shake-up it said will boost the next stage of its growth 14 months after launch.

US broadcasting giant Discovery Inc was the first major investor in GB News and was thought to have put in around £20m.

It has now been bought out by existing GB News backers Legatum Ventures Ltd and Sir Paul Marshall due to a re-evaluation of its investments following its merger with WarnerMedia into WarnerBros Discovery earlier this year.

Legatum and Sir Paul also bought the shareholdings of GB News co-founders Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, who created the broadcaster’s parent company in February 2021 but have now resigned as directors.

Schneider will remain on hand as a member of the editorial committee and an adviser, but Cole, who sat on the editorial and compensation committees, is leaving to dedicate more time to his fintech start-up. They had initially worked with Andrew Neil, the original chairman of GB News who left after three months complaining its editorial direction was not what he had been promised and he did not have enough input.

The £60m investment round is expected to be completed within the next few weeks, and matches the estimated amount of the channel’s initial funding round.

Legatum is known for its funding of think tank the Legatum Institute, which launched in 2007, and for producing the closely followed annual Prosperity Index.

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One of its partners Alan McCormick became chairman of GB News in April and he said the fact the Series B funding round had been secured with the “GB News family” was “testament to our confidence in the momentum and trajectory of GB News after a very strong first year”.

“Our additional investment means the channel will embark on robust
and exciting plans for the next stage of its growth and development,” he added.

GB News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said the renewed investment from Legatum and Sir Paul, co-founder of hedge fund Marshall Wace and a Vote Leave backer who invested in the broadcaster in a personal capacity, would give it “the financial muscle to build for the long term in a competitive market”.

Sir Paul said: “This is more than a financial investment. As investors we’re proud of what GB News doing for media plurality in the UK, bringing fresh perspectives to the national conversation on issues that matter to real Britain.”

He added: “GB News has made an incredible impact in only 14 months. It’s building a loyal and growing audience and has surpassed our expectations to become one of the UK’s fastest-growing multi-media start-ups in years,” and pledged that it would continue to provide a space for “genuinely independent thinking, insightful discussion, and impartial analysis” but not “groupthink”.

Frangopoulos said the investment would now go into the channel’s studio and technology, subtitles, more distribution platforms and new talent.

New GB News presenters

GB News, which launched in June 2021, is also adding three new well-known faces to its presenting roster. On and off screen, the channel has reached more than 200 journalists after starting with about 120 and its star presenters include Nigel Farage (pictured, right), Mark Steyn, and Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster at breakfast.

Telegraph associate editor Camilla Tominey will take on a senior political presenting role while Daily Mail political journalist Andrew Pierce will launch his own show later in the year. Both currently have their own radio shows on LBC and will continue in their respective newspaper roles.

GB News has also hired Michael Portillo, the former Conservative MP who was a regular guest on the axed BBC late-night political show This Week for 12 years. He has also joined the channel’s political team and will host his own show.

More plans for GB News

On Wednesday GB News also revealed it will host a two-hour hustings event with broadcast veteran Alastair Stewart interviewing Conservative leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak in Manchester on Friday. Stewart hosted the first-ever televised leaders’ debate between David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Gordon Brown in 2010.

The channel recently beat TalkTV to move channel numbers on Virgin Media to a more prominent position just below BBC News and Sky News and above BBC Parliament, from 626 to 604. News UK’s TalkTV is channel 627.

Editorial director Mick Booker, who joined in January from the Sunday Express, said the channel’s capabilities to broadcast from across the four nations of the UK will also be improved. One of the channel’s original pledges was to tell more stories from outside the “London bubble”.

He said: “As the people’s channel we are committed to serving the majority of British people, and that majority lives beyond London. Some of our best broadcast moments have come from our live audiences around the country, so we want to go to them more often.”

The channel will also begin to run a weekly poll of people around the UK called The GB News People’s Poll, conducted by People Polling.

Picture: GB News screenshot

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