British media magnate Lord Clive Hollick is cleaning out his closet before he steps down as ceo of United Business Media later this year.

He is believed to be selling UBM's 35% stake in UK commercial TV broadcaster Five to majority shareholder RTL Group. The German TV network, part of the giant Bertelsmann media stable, currently owns 65% of Five.

Hollick, who is also touting top-ten market researcher NOP World, has seen Five's fortunes rise over the last year with pre-tax profits doubling to £12.6 million ($24.2m, €18m) on revenues of £193m.

RTL ceo Gerhard Zeiler says RTL is committed to Five. But if it is not prepared to pay the estimated £220m for the additional shares, UK cable broadcaster Telewest may be tempted.

  • RTL has shown a sharp rise in profits for 2004, helped in part by Five's resurgence.

    The company reports group revenues declined 2.2% on a pro forma basis to €4.9 billion, but earnings before interest, tax and amortisation rose by one-fifth to €711m.

    However, RTL cautions that the results are not a pointer to overall recovery in the European advertising market, which it says remains patchy.

    In its core German market RTL also faces strong competition from rival commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat1.

    Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff