HILVERSUM, Netherlands: Endemol, the Dutch-headquartered TV production company responsible for such globally popular fodder as Big Brother, Operación Triunfo and Deal or No Deal, is the subject of persistent hearsay that it is poised to bid for ITV – the UK's largest commercial broadcaster.

The rumours gained potency following Endemol's appointment of Ynon Kreiz as ceo. He is known as a close ally of US media entrepreneur Haim Saban, fuelling speculation about a deal that could meld Endemol's muscle in reality and contest show formats with ITV's drama and entertainment expertise.

John de Mol, Endemol's co-founder and controlling shareholder, played down the possibility of bidding for ITV, whose shares languish at their lowest ebb (£0.438) since its merger as a single entity in February 2004, when they debuted at £1.48.

"This is an example of a combination that could make sense, depending on the numbers. I wouldn't want to exclude it," conceded de Mol, before backpedalling. "The alternatives are that we just follow the strategy we [have] had for twelve years."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff