Media boss Rupert Murdoch had a meeting with Margaret Thatcher at Chequers in January 1981 and discussed his bid to buy Times newspapers from the Thomson family, files reveal.
He outlined plans to make the operation profitable by introducing technology and lowering manning levels.
But records show there was no discussion of whether a bid would be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC).
Detail of the meeting is contained in a note by Thatcher's press secretary Bernard Ingham and marked "Commercial - In Confidence", files show.
Murdoch was confirmed as the new owner of The Times and Sunday Times in February 1981.
The deal was not referred to the MMC because ministers feared the newspapers could close if not sold quickly.