The government’s review of the deal is expected to conclude by the end of January. The culture secretary said the review would cover questions about “the need for accurate presentation of news and the free expression of opinions in newspapers”.

In a move that caught its rivals off guard, RedBird IMI said it would directly pay the debt of The Telegraph’s owners, who disrupted an open auction of the publications that was already underway. If regulators ultimately block Zucker’s effort, the auction would resume, giving his competitors a second chance to secure control.

Zucker, 58, was forced to leave CNN last year after he failed to disclose his relationship with a colleague. Zucker, a highly visible media figure for decades, became a political lightning rod because of his complex history with former President Donald J. Trump. In 2003, as president of NBC, he greenlit Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” turning the real estate developer into a national sensation. On CNN, Zucker aired hours of unfiltered coverage of Trump’s first campaign rallies; After Trump became president, CNN came under attack from conservatives for what they saw as anti-Trump bias.

Britons unfamiliar with Zucker’s background got a crash course this week in the pages of London newspapers, which have chronicled every twist in the Telegraph saga with characteristic irreverence. The lengthy Telegraph interview was illustrated with a giant photograph of Zucker smiling alongside Trump and his wife, Melania, taken during his days at NBC.

If the Telegraph deal closes, said Zucker, who lives in Manhattan and enjoys being part of the news business, it is unlikely he would handle day-to-day editorial matters. But he would oversee The Telegraph’s financial strategy, including a possible expansion into the United States, where, Zucker said, he sees a market “for a truly center-right media outlet.”

“If you have a brand that has the journalistic integrity of The Telegraph and the energy that the UK media has, which is really missing in the US, I think it’s a good combination,” he told The Telegraph.