Ulster TV directors buy pounds 9m shares to thwart bid

Cathy Newman

Ulster Television's directors yesterday moved to stave off a possible hostile bid from Scottish Media by spending more than pounds 9m buying just over 8 per cent of the company's shares.

Ulster also announced it was considering returning the majority of its pounds 12m cash pile to investors through a share buy-back. However Scottish Media retaliated by stepping up the pressure on Ulster and increasing its stake in the group to 18.2 per cent from just under 15 per cent.

Ulster held a board meeting on Wednesday, where the directors decided to bring forward the announcement of the company's interim results in the light of Scottish Media's raid on its shares last week, when it purchased of 13.1 per cent of Ulster. It is thought the directors decided to buy more shares because they feared Scottish would look to increase its stake further. John McGuckian, Ulster's chairman, was the biggest buyer, purchasing 4 million shares at a cost of more than pounds 8m.

Under Takeover Panel rules, Scottish was prevented from buying further shares for seven days after last week's dawn raid. That time limit expired yesterday, and Scottish took the chance to increase its shareholding. Scottish refused to rule out the possibility of a full bid.

One analyst said: "It's a little bit of macho posturing, but ultimately they could buy back the whole company. Scottish has certainly had a slap in the face on this one."

There was intense speculation last night about how the directors were financing the purchases. One analyst said the cash repayment arising from a share buy-back could be used to cover interest costs incurred by the directors if they had borrowed money to buy the shares.

However, Desmond Smyth, Ulster's managing director, said there was no link between the buy-back and the directors' share purchases. The directors collectively now own 10.6 per cent of the company.

Ulster announced a 22 per cent decline in pre-tax profits to pounds 3.64m for the half year to June.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific