Hollick Hangs Question-Mark Over 35% Stake in TV’s Five

30 July 2003

UK terrestrial TV channel Five could be up for grabs – despite the recent assurance by 65% shareholder RTL Group that “we are not sellers of the stake” [WAMN: 04-Jul-03].

Minority investor United Business Media may be undergoing a seven-year itch over its 35% holding. Although chief executive Lord Clive Hollick assured the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday he was “committed to the further growth of the channel,” he morphed into enigmatic mode saying that UBM’s goal for Five is “to build value and realise it at the right time”.

And when might “the right time” be? His Lordship declined to answer and resumed his Mona Lisa expression. But a teensy hint was forthcoming. Hollick admitted that UBM is seeking to expand in the US healthcare publications market – a move that would require a multimillion dollar warchest.

Meantime, although still awash with red ink, UBM enjoyed a better fiscal first-half than many in the publishing and market research sector. Cost-cutting helped slash pre-tax losses from £39.1 million ($63.42m; €55.48m) to £7.8m, while turnover fell 18% to £344m.

Data sourced from: Telegraph.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff