HTV succumbs to United News in pounds 370m takeover bid

The feeding frenzy among ITV companies continued yesterday, with the announcement that United News & Media had agreed to buy HTV Group for 420p a share.

The move - which values the company at pounds 371.7m - is the latest in a series of mergers in the industry, which has seen Granada Group this week bid for Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television (YTTV), and Grampian Television recently merge with Scottish Media Group.

Chris Rowlands, chief executive of HTV, said the deal had only been negotiated in the last fortnight and had been triggered by Granada's offer for Yorkshire. Mr Rowlands, who will be leaving the company once the deal is complete, said HTV's shareholders would be pleased by the "exceptional price" offered by United. United was forbidden from bidding less than 420p a share until 1 November, which would have marked the first anniversary that Lord Hollick's media company upped its stake in HTV to almost 30 per cent at the same price.

When Mr Rowlands joined the company in 1992, the share price was at an all-time low of 14p.

Roger Laughton, chief executive of United Broadcasting & Entertainment, said the company was "keen to maintain and develop" HTV's broadcasting and rights business. HTV has over the past few years built up a successful rights business, Harvest Entertainment.

Mr Laughton added that there was a "compelling strategic case" for the acquisition. United also owns the Anglia and Meridian franchises, and the latest purchase will enable Lord Hollick's group to challenge Carlton Communications and Granada Group more effectively.

Last night, just before the close of trading, United News & Media bought 18.8 million shares in the market to underpin its bid. The purchase took United's shareholding to 51 per cent.

Carlton Communications, which had been tipped by analysts as another potential suitor for HTV, is now unlikely to launch a counter-bid.

City analysts added last night that United's move made it highly likely the company would vote its 14 per cent stake in YTTV in favour of the offer for the company made by Granada.

Most industry observers agreed that HTV had secured a "good price", which represented a 40 times multiple on historic earnings. Other deals in the sector have gone for around 28 to 30 times historic earnings.

Lorna Tilbian, media analyst at Panmure Gordon, said United may now be more interested in challenging the Independent Television Commission on its decision this week to award the licences for digital terrestrial television to British Digital Broadcasting. United was part of the rival consortium, Digital Television Network. However, United may decide instead to buy out Yorkshire's 40 per cent stake in S4C Digital Networks (SDN), which is bidding for one of the digital terrestrial multiplexes.

Shares in HTV soared 84.5p to 415p yesterday, while shares in United closed 10p lower at 714.5p

The announcement follows swiftly on the heels of news earlier in the month that Scottish Media Group was in talks about acquiring its neighbour, Grampian Television for pounds 105m. ITV companies had been bracing themselves for a further round of consolidation for a while, after the 1996 Broadcasting Act revised the rules on media ownership.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine