ITV plays down John Malone drama as its profits jump 40 per cent to £250m


ITV has insisted it can prosper as an independent company despite increasing takeover speculation after it reported a 40 per cent jump in half-year profits.

Its chief executive, Adam Crozier, said he has had no contact with Virgin Media owner Liberty Global since it made a courtesy call to inform him it was taking a 6.4 per cent stake in ITV for £481m two weeks ago.

Mr Crozier said: “What Liberty’s intentions are, are a matter for them.” He added ITV will work with Liberty just like any other shareholder and it is “business as usual”.

Liberty, owned by the US mogul John Malone, has ruled out a bid in the short term. But analysts at Investec believe a takeover of ITV is “on the agenda” amid a frenzy of deals, with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox bidding for Time Warner and merging all Sky’s European assets, while MTV owner Viacom is buying Channel 5.

Investec said it values ITV at 215p a share and it could be worth 250p, based on the price Fox has offered Time Warner.

Mr Crozier acknowledged there was widespread consolidation in the media sector but insisted ITV, which is worth £8bn, has “plenty of headroom and growth ahead of us” as an independent company.

Half-year pre-tax profits jumped 40 per cent to £250m, with sales 7 per cent ahead at £1.22bn.

Profits soared on the strength of a World Cup advertising boom and selling more of its programmes online and to other broadcasters. Advertising leapt 13 per cent in the last three months, despite England’s poor showing in the football tournament.

Mr Crozier said: “The economic recovery is leading to an improved advertising market.” He expects the next six months to be at least as good and declared: “We’re confident of our strong autumn schedule with both new and returning drama and entertainment.”

He highlighted forthcoming series of Downton Abbey and The X Factor, with the return of Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell. New dramas include Cilla Black biopic Cilla, starring Sheridan Smith, Grantchester, about a crime-solving vicar, and The Great Fire, inspired by the blaze that hit London in 1666.

Mr Crozier also promised to hike the dividend by 20 per cent for the next three years. However, despite the strong financial showing, ITV’s share of commercial TV viewing declined and he admitted the performance of digital channels ITV2 and ITV3 was “disappointing” – partly because of the launch of a rival drama channel from UKTV.

The shares were barely unchanged at 204.5p, down 0.5p, as the results hit forecasts.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral