Mystery predator stalks West175

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The Independent Online

West 175 is being eyed up by an American predator keen to exploit the recent fall in the lifestyle media company's share price.

West 175 is being eyed up by an American predator keen to exploit the recent fall in the lifestyle media company's share price.

An unnamed US media company is understood to have held two meetings with West 175's advisers, and a bid may come shortly. West 175 has strong interests in the US, where it owns the rights to the Masterchef television cookery programme. In addition, it has significant television interests in Canada and Australasia.

West's share price has fallen from a peak in January of 473 1/2p to close on Friday at 191 1/2p, which values it at just £38.5m. Despite the falling share price, investors have continued to show their appetite for the West 175 story. In August, a successful round of fundraising saw West 175's market capitalisation increase by 50 per cent.

West 175's status in the US has been boosted by the success of Masterchef, whose American version is presented by Gary Rhodes, the celebrity chef. There is a currently a vacancy for the job of presenting the UK version, Loyd Grossman having left the show, it emerged last week.

West 175's Anglo-Antipodean nature is reflected in its board. The company's chief executive is a New Zealander, John McEwen, but its chairman, Rohan Courtney, is British, although he has spent much of his career in Australia. Its non-executive directors include Sir David Frost, the veteran broadcaster.

The company is also involved in new media, and earlier this month bought a stake in New Zealand's largest Vodafone dealership. This deal is intended to complement its recent acquisition of a 60 per cent stake in Actrix, New Zealand's longest-established internet service provider.

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