Hollick secures a stake in HTV as fight for franchises hots up

United News and Media, Labour peer Lord Hollick's conglomerate, will today announce that it is buying a 20 per cent stake in HTV, the ITV licence holder for Wales and the West, launching the long-awaited consolidation of Britain's commercial television sector.

The purchase of the stake, from Scottish Television., will be seen in the City as proof that Lord Hollick intends to mount a full bid for HTV, one of the leading takeover candidates among the ITV companies.

United already controls the Meridian and Anglia TV franchises. United News and Media may also be planning to sell its 14 per cent stake in Yorkshire- Tyne Tees, the northern-based ITV company, to Granada, which already controls 27 per cent of YTT. The corporate moves are expected to lead to a full take-over by Granada of YTT and by United of HTV.

The ITV sector has been poised for takeover action ever since the Government passed the Broadcasting Bill, which for the first time allows companies to control more than two ITV licences. Provided a single company does not control 15 per cent of the total television audience in the United Kingdom, it will be free from November 1 to own as many franchises as it wishes. United's move on HTV is likely to attract the interest of Carlton Communications, Michael Green's media company, which owns the London weekday and Central ITV franchises. Mr Green has long coveted HTV and is unlikely to watch his rival snap it up.

Full bids for YTT and HTV by their respective suitors will probably await a softening of the share prices of both target companies. Both have seen their shares rise sharply in anticipation of bid activity. HTV is worth well in excess of pounds 320m, while YTT could fetch as much as pounds 800m. Smaller ITV companies are also expected to be sold, as the consolidation takes grip. Ulster TV, Border Television, and even Westcountry, the ITV franchise holder in Devon and Cornwall, are all vulnerable. Indeed, Westcountry has itself solicited bids from potential buyers, of which Carlton is thought the most likely. United's pre-emptive move on HTV is thought to be linked to its concerns about its share of the ITV advertising market. Its sales house, TSMS, sells air time for HTV and Westcountry, and it is keen to ensure rivals do not steal market share.

The purchase of the HTV stake by United marks Lord Hollick's second big buy in the space of two weeks. Last week, his company offered nearly pounds 600m for Blenheim, the exhibitions company. Scottish Television is thought to be looking to reduce its debt by selling the HTV stake.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss