LWT issues profit challenge: Row over results is all a smokescreen, Granada says

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LONDON WEEKEND Television issued another challenge to Granada yesterday in its campaign to remain independent. Sir Christopher Bland, LWT's chairman, asked Alex Bernstein, his counterpart at Granada, to withdraw the doubts Granada has expressed over LWT's profits estimate for 1993.

His request followed a retraction by Granada of points it made in a document last week restating its case for its pounds 735m bid for the London television franchise holder. Granada was forced to clarify some statements in the document after a complaint to the Takeover Panel by LWT. It admitted that the document understated LWT's net cash inflow by two percentage points.

Sir Christopher asked Mr Bernstein to say whether he accepted LWT's profits estimate of pounds 43.8m for 1993. He complained that Gerry Robinson, Granada's chief executive, had said that the LWT figure bore some close scrutiny.

A Granada spokesman said the letter was a smokescreen raised by LWT to obscure the real issues in the bid, which were price and strategy. Sources close to Granada said the company had obviously touched a raw nerve in LWT with its latest bid document and that the corrections forced on Granada by the Takeover Panel were trivial.

Granada is awaiting a ruling by the Office of Fair Trading on the monopoly considerations for the sale of advertising airtime if the bid is successful.

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