ITV shareholders tell cable company to 'forget takeover' without £5bn cash

Investors say they won't swap stake for shares in NTL
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The Independent Online

Shareholders in ITV will not consider accepting the takeover of the company by NTL unless the cable group makes a £5bn cash offer for the troubled broadcaster.

NTL has said it is keen to explore a takeover of ITV, and advisers for the two companies met on Friday afternoon to discuss the preliminary approach. But investors in ITV do not want to swap their stakes in the broadcaster for shares in an enlarged, US-listed group. One institutional shareholder said yesterday: "Unless NTL puts cash on the table, it can forget about the takeover."

It is believed that NTL plans to make a cash-and-share offer for ITV. However, a cash-only deal would take its debt to over £8bn. Toby Syfret, an analyst at Enders Analysis, believes NTL should focus on its own business.

He said: "'New' NTL has a lot on its plate. Its cable subscriber base has started to decline. The company is in the midst of a huge project to merge Telewest with 'old' NTL and reduce costs."