Takeover Bid Rumours Hike ITV Shares by 4.5%

06 February 2008

LONDON: Speculation on Monday about a reported takeover bid inflated the share price of Britain's largest commercial broadcaster, ITV, which at one point reached £0.80 after languishing last week at around £0.76.

According to Sunday newspaper The Observer: "Three private equity groups are pondering a £3 billion ($5.93bn; €4.00bn) bid for ITV, according to investment bankers.

"They [Apax Partners, Providence Equity Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts] are 'running the numbers' and considering an opportunistic offer of about £1.00 a share."

But industry onlookers say "opportunistic" is the wrong word to describe a bid that high. At a premium of 28% above Tuesday morning's price of £0.78, "stupid" would be a more appropriate term.

Interestingly, none of the named parties were willing to comment on the bid story which, if without foundation, ought to trigger a flurry of denials.

A bid, should it comes to pass, would be manna from heaven for News Corporation's UK pay-TV satellite unit BSkyB.

It was recently ordered by the UK Competition Commission to reduce its 17.9% stake in ITV to below 7.5% – an act that would deplete Clan Murdoch's coffers to the tune of £250 million.

Data sourced from BBC Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff