American media billionaire Haim Saban, whose fortune was spun from the sale of his children’s TV licensing empire, is reportedly planning to make the shareholders in Carlton Communications and Granada Media an offer they can’t refuse for Britain's leading commercial network ITV.
An offer from Saban, whose principal contribution to global television quality is the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, would confirm the worst fears of opponents of the government’s Communications Bill, currently in passage through the House of Lords.
At present, no UK television company may be owned or controlled by a non-EU based company. The Communications Bill, due to be enacted later in 2003, will sweep away this barrier despite a strong recommendation to the contrary by the Joint Parliamentary Committee appointed by the Blair administration to scrutinize the bill.
According to reports in UK national newspapers the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph, Saban Capital Group and US investment group Apax Partners have partnered for a joint bid - although this has yet to be confirmed by any of the parties involved.
But onlookers believe the rumoured ITV deal could explain why Saban last week abruptly pulled out of an agreed €2 billion ($2.3bn; £1.4bn) deal to purchase Germany’s KirchMedia [WAMN: 06-Jun-03].
Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff