SelecTV sale nets chief pounds 4m

Pearson to keep production companies and programming libraries in agreed pounds 41m deal
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Allan McKeown, husband of the actress Tracey Ullman and chief executive of SelecTV, is poised to pocket pounds 4.2m personally, following confirmation yesterday that Pearson, the media and financial services company, has made an agreed cash offer of pounds 46m for his company.

The deal, if accepted by SelecTV shareholders, will also give Mr McKeown, chief executive, a two-year consultancy worth pounds 305,000 annually.

The terms are for 29p a share, or pounds 41.5m. Another pounds 4.5m covers the costs of exercising options by Mr McKeown and other directors. Pearson has irrevocable acceptances from shareholders holding 25 per cent of the company, including stake held by the Daily Mail & General Trust and MAI, Lord Hollick's media and financial services company

Mr McKeown will remain in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, whose TV series have been produced by SelecTV and her own vehicle, Mabelline.

Pearson is planning to keep SelecTV's production companies and its programming library, worth pounds 8m. Programmes include hit series such as Lovejoy, Birds of a Feather and Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

As part of the deal, Carlton, the media giant run by Michael Green, yesterday agreed to buy SelecTV's cable channel for pounds 5.2m, while MAI is paying pounds 30m for SelecTV's 15 per cent holding in Meridian, the ITV licence holder for the south of England, in which MAI already has 61 per cent. The total includes pounds 3m for outstanding loan notes.

Pearson Television, whose chief executive is the former LWT chief Greg Dyke, conceded that the deal took "much longer than anticipated to close." A source close to SelecTV added: "Whenever you get people like Greg Dyke, Michael Green Lord Hollick and Allan McKeown involved, the difficulties speak for themselves."

Mr Dyke first approached SelecTV last April, and was believed to be prepared to offer up to 38p or 39p a share. But as Pearson and SelecTV were members of competing consortia bidding for the new Channel 5 licence, the bid was abandoned until the award was made in October. It was won by the Pearson/MAI group, Channel 5 Broadcasting. In the six months to September, SelecTV posted a loss of pounds 2m against a profit of pounds 517,000 last time.