Dyke role at Apax fuels ITV rumours

Apax Partners, the private equity group that specialises in the media sector, has lured Greg Dyke to advise it in a move that yesterday revived speculation linking the former BBC director general with ITV.

Mr Dyke, who quit the BBC in the wake of Lord Hutton's damning report into the corporation, has joined Apax's media team as an advisor, an Apax spokeswoman said. He will help the group, which prepared a bid for ITV last year, to run the slide rule over potential media acquisitions.

One media analyst, commenting on the appointment, said: "All roads would seem to lead to ITV. If Greg were going to get involved in anything in the sector, it would be in television. In production, other than ITV there isn't much around. Plus Greg would be a little large for some of the other stuff Apax looks at."

Mr Dyke was first linked with the top job at ITV in April, when it emerged he had met the broadcaster's chairman, Sir Peter Burt, for a meeting. Sir Peter is another of Apax's advisers - on financial services companies - and the pair met at the private equity firm's City offices. Mr Burt was later forced to issue a statement publicly backing Charles Allen, ITV's chief executive.

Another possibility is that with Mr Dyke on board, Apax could bid for BBC Worldwide, if the corporation's commercial arm is auctioned off. "Depending on what assets are sold it could appeal to a private equity group because its brand equity would give it a solid enough revenue stream to leverage debt against," one analyst said.

Under the aegis of Neil Blackley, the former Merrill Lynch analyst who chairs Apax's media board, the private equity group put together a consortium to bid for ITV before Carlton merged with Granada. With Stephen Grabiner at the helm Apax came close to launching a bid, but was put off by shareholders, keener on the merger than a sale.

Apax, currently marketing its latest European fund, with a target of more than €4bn, has a strong reputation in the media sector. Its most recent success was the stock market flotation of Yell, the yellow pages business that it co-owned with Hicks Muse Tate and Furst. Last month, Apax teamed up with Cinven to buy a Dutch telephone directories business from VNU. It was also shortlisted during the bidding frenzy for the Telegraph Group.

Comments