TV companies face pounds 2bn bid battles


Media Editor

Television companies are bracing themselves for pounds 2bn worth of bid battles that will change the face of Britain's television industry for years to come.

Eight ITV companies are named as leading targets, while Carlton and Granada are the likely predators. Betting on who will buy what has sent shares soaring over the past few months.

Top of the list of takeover candidates is HTV, licence-holder for Wales and the West, which has jumped by more than 20 per cent since the startof the year. In 12 months, the company's shares have soared to 347p from 141p. Close behind is Yorkshire-Tyne Tees, which closed last night at a record 818p, 17 per cent up since 1 January.

The frenzy is being fuelled by the Government's decision to relax rules governing media cross-ownership, unveiled late last year. Once the Broadcasting Bill is passed, possibly by the summer, companies will be able to buy as many ITV licences as they wish, provided no individual broadcaster ends up with more than 15 per cent of the total television audience.

The leading contenders to take over HTV are Carlton, the largest ITV company, and Scottish TV, which already holds a 20 per cent stake. The price tag could be even higher than HTV's current market capitalisation of pounds 300m, according to media analysts.

But Scottish itself is also a potential target, even if its share price has been slow to rise in recent months. Mirror Group, which has a 43 per cent stake in the Independent, owns 20 per cent of STV, as does Flextech, the cable and satellite programme packager. Flextech's chief executive, Roger Luard, is believed to be prepared to sell at the right price.

Also up for grabs are the small ITV players such as Border, Grampian and Ulster, which are together worth as much as pounds 275m. Granada is the leading contender for Border, which is adjacent to Granada's northern licence region

"The permutations are endless," said one TV chief executive. "Everyone is considering all the scenarios."

All told, said one leading analyst, "this is the biggest change in the independent sector since the Broadcasting Act of 1990."

Inevitably, ITV's near-monopoly on commercial advertising income is set to diminish, with the advent of the digital TV revolution and the growing penetration of cable and satellite services.

But the sector is expected to earn significant profits in coming years, particularly following consolidation. Analysts point out that the main advantage of takeovers in the sector is cost-cutting, particularly through shared sales and back office support.

Some analysts expect at most four big ITV groupings once the dust clears. These will probably include Carlton, Granada and MAI, perhaps rounded out by a "regional" group comprising Scotland, Wales and the small players.

Others advise against the hype, warning that the current prices of many ITV companies are unsustainable on fundamentals. Anthony de Larrinaga, media analyst at Panmure Gordon, said: "It is interesting that the share prices of the potential bidders are going down while the likely targets are going up. That suggests the market believes bidders will offer too much."

.A wild card is MAI, Lord Hollick's media and financial services conglomerate, which also holds a 15 per cent stake in Yorskhire-Tyne Tees. It has been widely rumoured to be looking for additional broadcasting opportunities.

But some analysts expect MAI to become a target itself, due to the market's growing love affair with demergers. "Certainly someone may come along and bid for the company, and then sell off the money-broking arm," said one analyst.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Finance Officer

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education are seeking a Fi...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice