Tail between legs, US private equity trio Goldman Sachs Group, Apax Partners and Blackstone Group have pulled their attempt to acquire ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster.

The retreat followed the ITV board's unanimous rejection of last week's sweetened bid [WAMN: 31-Mar-06]. In a curt statement issued Friday evening, the trio said: "In the light of the response from the board of ITV, the consortium has decided not to proceed further with its proposal."

ITV shares fell 4.6%, to £1.1925 ($2.07; €1.71) following the announcement.

Wise after the event, as ever, UK media observers now criticize the US attempt as "a bid too far".

Opined The Independent's financial columnist Jeremy Warner: "[The] consortium couldn't have gone any higher with its bid because the whole endeavour was already risky enough."

He continued: The proposed leverage of seven times last year's cash flow was too high for a cyclical business with such high operational gearing, where a 1% change in top-line revenues make a six per cent difference to the bottom line.

"All it would require is another recession in the advertising market and the whole endeavour would have gone bust."

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff