Channel Five owner 'eyes ITV'

17-11-2006

Channel Five owner 'eyes ITV'
Europe's largest broadcasting company, which owns Britain's Channel Five, is considering a £5 billion offer for commercial television firm ITV, a report claimed today.

RTL plans to use private equity backers to finance the takeover deal, the Financial Times says.

The Bertelsmann-owned group operates 34 television and 33 radio stations across 11 countries on the continent.

Earlier this week RTL's chief executive officer Gerhard Zeiler said he was not in talks with ITV, but refused to rule a future approach out.

ITV, currently without a chief executive following the departure of Charles Allen, is still waiting on a bid from cable firm NTL.

NTL said earlier this month that it had "scheduled an initial conversation with ITV", but no formal offer has been submitted.

The US-owned firm merged with Telewest in March and plans to rename itself under the Virgin brand next year following the £960 million acquisition of Virgin Mobile, but is lumbered with debts of £5.4 billion, which could represent a major stumbling block to any prospective deal.

Today's Financial Times article states that RTL would be forced to sell Five to complete its acquisition of ITV.


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