THE STOCK market is wrong to believe United News & Media a more attractive takeover proposition, either to Granada or someone else, than its proposed merger partner, Carlton. For Gerry Robinson at Granada, there is no choice as things stand since the rules forbid him from acquiring either. In the event the rules are changed, it would be Carlton, not United, that would make the more attractive partner for Granada.
This is not just because Carlton's TV assets are better, with their London weekday franchise. It is also because Carlton's break-up value is a good deal higher, making it an obvious target for a financial buyer. Carlton's fate may be sealed well before the Competition Commission and the Government can decide on whether to allow a further consolidation of ITV franchises.