Granada offer expected today

Granada Group is today expected to table a formal offer for its neighbouring Yorkshire Tyne-Tees Television company, after a series of high-level meetings yesterday.

Barring last-minute hitches, a 90-page offer document is to be circulated to shareholders today, confirming Granada's bid at pounds 11.75 a share. City analysts had expected Gerry Robinson's media and leisure conglomerate to increase its offer by around 20p after a rebellion by institutional shareholders.

However, Granada is thought to be confident of the support of all the major shareholders with the exception of Mercury Asset Management. MAM's objections would not be enough to scupper the bid, especially as Lord Hollick's United News & Media, which has a 14 per cent stake in Yorkshire, is understood to be in favour of the deal. Ward Thomas, Yorkshire's chairman, visited institutional shareholders last Friday to explain why he had been prepared to entertain Granada's approaches, which value the company at pounds 710m, when he had previously said he would not sell for less than pounds 17 a share.

But despite Granada's confidence that the institutions had been won over, some were last night vowing to vote against the offer. One source at a significant shareholder said: "I don't believe the situation has changed." However, he added: "If Lord Hollick backs Granada our task is going to be somewhat difficult."

Granada already has a 27 per cent stake in Yorkshire. Mr Robinson, the company's chairman, said earlier this month that ITV companies should merge into "one entity" to allow for greater efficiency.