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Carlton Group’s buy of ITN to wrap this week

The sale of Independent Television News to a consortium headed by Carlton Communications will finally be completed later this week, after revised terms were accepted Monday by all ITN’s major shareholders.

The takeover group, which originally comprised Carlton, Central TV, LWT and Reuters, has been expanded to include Granada TV, Scottish TV and Anglia TV. Scottish and Anglia will own 5% each; the other five 18% each.

ITN, the news supplier to ITV and Channel 4, is currently owned by the 14 regional ITV companies, including five members of the buying consortium. Carlton and Reuters will be ITN’s only new shareholders, and Reuters will be the only non-ITV company after Carlton TV takes over from Thames TV as the London ITV station in the New Year.

Thames TV, TVS and TSW, the three ITV companies that lost their broadcasting franchises in last year’s auction, have accepted a much improved offer for their holdings. The consortium’s original bid of T1 per share, which valued ITN at just T400,000, was increased to T14 per share for these three companies alone.

This is a compensation to the three for their contribution to ITN’s restructuring costs over the past couple of years. Since they will no longer be part of the ITV network after this year, they will receive nothing from this investment.

The Carlton consortium has received acceptances from companies holding 74.7% of the ITN stocks, and needs 75% for the offer to go unconditional. The remaining shareholders are due to give their response by Friday, but are expected to agree.

The new owners are committed to invest T30 million in ITN, and will make half of this sum available as soon as the takeover is complete. Carlton boss Michael Green will be ITN’s new chairman, replacing Thames TV’s Richard Dunn.

But ITN faces the prospect of another shakeup in its ownership in the next two years. Under the 1990 Broadcasting Act, at least 51% of ITN’s shares must be owned by non-ITV companies by the end of 1994. The current deal leaves 82% of ITN in ITV hands.

The new owners will comply with the legislation if they have to, which could involve bringing in a U.S. broadcaster as a partner.

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