Jewish Chronicle saved after messy takeover battle

Josh Peachey's picture

After a messy takeover battle, the historic Jewish Chronicle has been saved after being sold to a consortium.

Heading up the group of buyers is Theresa May’s former director of communications, Sir Robbie Gibb, who worked in Downing Street throughout the Brexit negotiation process. 

Other buyers include ex-Labour MP John Woodcock, former charity commission chairman William Shawcross, and John Ware, a journalist who recently made a Panorama investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour party.

The new owners intend to reveal further details regarding who is providing the financial backing in the coming days. The new buyers have decided to turn the Jewish Chronicle into a trust in order to protect its future and follow a similar editorial line.

A statement from the Jewish Chronicle Consortium read: "Those donors that have made philanthropic contributions to secure the future of this treasured institution are entitled to their privacy, and will have no say in editorial policy, nor any beneficial ownership of the Jewish Chronicle. The current editorial direction of the Jewish Chronicle will be maintained under the leadership of Stephen Pollard and his editorial team."

The newspaper was put into liquidation this month by the Kessler Foundation, who blamed the state of the media industry and coronavirus' effect on advertising revenues. 

To save the publication, one option on the table for the Kessler Foundation was to merge with rival paper Jewish News, which would have cleared a lot of debt, but also give up editorial direction to senior staff at Jewish news. They launched a bid to buy back the assets to do just that.

The consortium, who ended up being successful, outbid the former owners with a surprise counteroffer - a move supported by Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard.

The new owners said the liquidators supported their bid as they were able to pay back creditors in full and provide better financial terms for the newspaper's staff.

David Wolfson QC, who oversees the Jewish Chronicle Trust, said his organisation had decided to back the new owners: “We have supported the process leading to the consortium’s ownership of the JC because we believe, in the current circumstances, that to be the best way to keep the JC’s heart beating."