Granada wins fight for LWT

Granada Group has won its battle to acquire LWT, the first time a hostile takeover bid for an ITV company has ever succeeded.

By the Friday deadline, Granada, which holds the ITV broadcasting license for northwest England, had gained control of 57% of LWT stock.

Its all-share offer values the London weekend ITV station at T811 million ( $ 1.2 billion).

The deal follows the friendly takeovers of Central TV by Carlton Communications and of Anglia TV by MAI, after the government loosened the rules governing ITV ownership last November.

LWT’s management opposed the Granada bid, but will profit handsomely from their defeat. The top 24 LWT execs own about 10% of the company, and the takeover deal will net them about T75 million ($ 112 million).

Granada is already the largest producer of programs for ITV, supplying hits such as “Prime Suspect” and the soap “Coronation Street.” Combined with LWT, also a major producer, the group will dominate the production scene in the U.K.’s commercial TV sector, providing about 40% of all ITV shows.

Granada chief exec Gerry Robinson said Friday that he expected to aggressively expand the group’s program-making activities, both in the U.K. and abroad. Granada and LWT already co-owns an international distribution company.

In terms of advertising revenues, the takeover makes Granada the second-largest ITV group, after the newly merged Carlton/Central.

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