MAI buys Pearson's Yorkshire TV stake

Pearson, the information and entertainment company, has sold its entire 14.8 per cent stake in Yorkshire-Tyne Tees, the independent television company, for £41.3m. The buyer is MAI, the financial services and media holding company chaired by Lord Hollick, which already owns Anglia Television and Meridian, the licence holders for the South, South-east and East of England.

The sale comes before anticipated relaxation of cross-media ownership rules. It is thought the Government's White Paper will be unveiled on 25 May.

Announcing the sale, Pearson Television chairman Greg Dyke said: "We have decided that a 14 per cent stake in a regional broadcaster is no longer of any strategic interest to us."

A company spokesman said the decision to sell the stake was taken only last week, after a bid for the new Channel 5 licence by Pearson and MAI was deposited with the Independent Television Commission. The two companies said the deal had not been arranged before finalising the bid details.

A Pearson spokesman said the company was "increasingly optimistic" of winning the licence to provide Britain's fifth terrestrial television channel. Pearson's bid, at £22m, came in second behind a consortium led by CanWest, the Canadian broadcaster, and in a dead tie with an offer made by Virgin and several partners.

YTT stock has risen sharply in recent weeks on speculation that changes to ownership restrictions would allow newspaper groups or other independent television companies to buy a controlling interest in YTT.

The shares were sold at 500p each, a discount to the market price of 520p yesterday morning, before the deal was announced.

YTT shares rose to 538p on speculation that MAI and Granada, which has a 15 per cent stake, may battle for the company, provided ownership restrictions are liberalised.

Advisers to Pearson had argued that the Government was unlikely to substantially revise rules limiting the stakes of newspaper publishers in television companies, and that Pearson would be better to concentrate on its Channel 5 prospects. Pearson is now free to take up to 20 per cent of Channel 5.

The chances that MAI would be able to buy YTT outright were believed to be greater, the advisers said.

Pearson executives had privately expressed concerns about the way YTT was managed. The company was particularly disturbed by the departure of John Fairley, chief executive of Yorkshire Television, this month.

The Department of National Heritage is currently awaiting the results of a study done by National Economic Research Associates on how other countries monitor media ownership. Several British media companies have suggested the Government should use market share, rather than ownership restrictions, to limit concentration in particular markets.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most