Richard Desmond quits board at Channel 5 in new sign broadcaster is to be sold

 

Richard Desmond has resigned from the board of Channel 5's operating company in a further sign that he is preparing for a possible sale of the broadcaster.

The media mogul and two other senior executives quietly stepped down from Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited at the end of December, according to Companies House filings.

Mr Desmond's team has sent out a detailed information memorandum, including Channel 5's financial data, to would-be buyers and is thought to have set a 27 February deadline to make initial offers.

In a separate move, the regulator, Ofcom, yesterday formally confirmed that Channel 5 and ITV have completed the renewal of their broadcasting licences for another 10 years until 2024 – a symbolic move which will give confidence to any potential bidder for Channel 5.

Mr Desmond, who also owns the Daily Express, Daily Star, OK! magazine and adult TV channels, surprised the City when it emerged last month that he had hired Barclays to look at a sale of Channel 5 for as much as £700m.

He paid £103.5m cash to buy the broadcaster from the European giant RTL just three and a half years ago.

Mr Desmond's Northern & Shell group declined to comment on the board changes or sale process.

Northern & Shell is thought to have received interest from a string of potential buyers.

The American giants NBC, Turner Broadcasting, Discovery and Scripps, owner of UKTV, have all been mooted.

However, observers reckon any sale could take several months and it is far from clear whether Mr Desmond can get the price he wants or if he will end up selling.

Indeed, Enders Analysis has said that "negotiations are likely to be far from straightforward in spite of markedly improved profits" at the Big Brother broadcaster, which struggled to break even under RTL.

The analysts said it was "unlikely" that existing UK players such as BSkyB, BT or ITV would mount a serious bid.

"The strongest interest is likely to be from overseas," said the TV research analyst Toby Syfret of Enders.

He estimates that Mr Desmond has boosted operating profit at Channel 5 to as much as £70m a year, to give a £700m valuation of 10 times earnings.

Big Brother has performed well and Channel 5 briefly overtook Channel 4 in the ratings last summer.

In addition, the TV advertising market has bounced back since its nadir in 2009, despite the rise of the internet.

But Mr Syfret suggested that Mr Desmond has benefited from his ability to cross-promote the broadcaster in his newspapers and magazines and that another owner could miss out on such "massive free publicity".

Mr Desmond's other media assets are not thought to be for sale, although Barclays sounded out interest in his papers and magazines in 2011.

Northern & Shell is also reported to have received an approach for its Health Lottery.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Frozen out: despite being filmed in Iceland, 'Fortitude' is set further north, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
tvGerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore