ITV to Sell Off Some Digital Assets

17 February 2009

LONDON: ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster, is said to be considering selling some of its digital assets, including social networking website Friends Reunited, which it bought for £175 million ($250m; €195m) in late 2005, as it seeks to offset falling ad revenues.

Lazards, a financial advisory and asset management firm, is advising ITV on the sale of Friends Reunited, possible buyers for which could include other social networking portals or traditional media companies looking to expand online.

Friends Reunited made £10m in revenues in 2008, down £1m on the previous year, having lost ground to rivals such as Facebook and MySpace, while income from, and ITV Mobile increased from £5m to £7m.

Overall, UK television adspend is forecast to decline this year, with observers predicting that the broadcaster's flagship ITV1 channel will experience a drop of around 12% for 2009 following a decline of 9% in 2008, meaning its profits would decrease by around £100m.

The share price of ITV, which is also working with the Boston Consulting Group to rationalise its operations, has fallen by over 60% over the last 12 months, and the company also has an estimated £663m in debt.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff