Threats of a hostile bid if United News & Media did not willingly sell its TV assets to Granada Media persuaded reluctant UN&M chief executive Sir Clive Hollick to sit at the negotiating table with Granada chairman Gerry Robinson and his cohorts. A sale announcement is thought to be imminent.

Robinson is now within a whisker of achieving his consuming ambition – retirement from Granada with a legacy of creating the UK’s largest and richest commercial television company.

The deal is worth in the region of £2 billion and will bring Anglia Television, HTV and south of England TV franchise Meridian into Granada's stable, plus a stake in Channel 5.

However, legislation limiting TV audience share by any one company will force Granada to sell-on some of its new booty – probably HTV (the ITV Welsh franchise) and the Channel 5 holding. The most likely buyers are thought to be Carlton Television or Scottish Media for the former, and the newly floated RTL Group for the latter.

News source: The Times (London)