ITV takes £340m loss on sale of Thomson stake

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The Independent Online

ITV crystallised a £340m loss yesterday on the sale of its 5.5 per cent stake in Thomson, the French media and consumer electronics group.

ITV crystallised a £340m loss yesterday on the sale of its 5.5 per cent stake in Thomson, the French media and consumer electronics group.

The stake is a legacy of Carlton's £1.4bn disposal of Technicolour, the video manufacturing and distribution business which it sold to Thomson in January 2001. Carlton has since merged with Granada to form ITV.

Carlton, then chaired by Michael Green, agreed to take part of the sale price in Thomson shares that were valued at £515m or €40-a-share at the time. The subsequent sell-off in media stocks has brought Thomson's shares down to €16.5.

Charles Allen, ITV's chief executive, sold the shares yesterday at a five-month high and said the £172m disposal would be used to cut the group's borrowings. "This disposal, together with the recent sale of Carlton Books and the initial bids we've received for the Moving Picture Company, means that we are well advanced in disposing of our non-core assets, restructuring our balance sheet and significantly reducing our debt."

Other non-core assets ITV is likely to sell include stakes in Arsenal and Liverpool football clubs and its education publishing business.

After the original Technicolour deal, Carlton used the Thomson stake as security to raise €638m of debt. That was subsequently assumed on to the new ITV balance sheet.

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