Hollick clears decks with ITV in his sights

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The Independent Online

Media mogul Lord Hollick has scaled back his role at US private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts (KKR), leading to speculation that he is interested in leading listed broadcaster ITV following Michael Grade's decision to quit.

Lord Hollick, who was chief executive at former Daily Express owner United Business Media (UBM) until 2005, has reduced his role from partner to adviser in recent weeks. While he will continue to advise on acquisitions on which he led, such as the €3bn (£2.7bn) purchase of German television group, ProSiebenSat1, at which he is vice-chairman, it is unlikely Lord Hollick will search out further deals for KKR.

The ProSieben purchase has been troubled, with KKR and fellow private equity owner Permira forced to restructure the broadcaster's €1.8bn debt burden. Media sources suggested that this had led to Lord Hollick taking a back-seat role, though others believed that his many business interests were the deciding factor.

As a result, Lord Hollick, who ran ITV licence franchises at forerunner companies, is being tipped as a successor to Michael Grade as boss at ITV. Mr Grade announced last week that he intended to stand down as executive chairman, starting a race to take over as chief executive.

A media sector source said: "Clive would love to do the ITV job, and he's all but left KKR meaning that he's free to get back into broadcasting. With private equity experience, he would also be prepared to do something radical with ITV."

Lord Hollick was also reported to have considered a bid with KKR for ITV in 2006. Others tipped for ITV include Tony Ball, the former BSkyB chief executive; Greg Dyke, the ex-boss of the BBC and a long-shot plus at least two strong internal candidates.

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