MAI acquiring Anglia in $ 437 mil merger

MAI, the media-to-moneybroking group led by socialist entrepreneur Lord Hollick, Tuesday staked its claim to become one of the ITV network’s leading players by announcing a takeover bid for Anglia TV.

The agreement, mixing cash with MAI stock, values Anglia, the ITV station for east England, at T292 million ($ 437 million), a premium of 32% over market price.

MAI already owns 61% of Meridian Broadcasting, the ITV station for southern England, and together the two neighboring regions reach 9 million viewers, earning 18% of ITV revenues.

From last November when the U.K. government announced the relaxation of the web’s ownership rules, permitting one company to own two ITV stations, Anglia was always regarded as one of the most attractive takeover targets.

The MAI offer is the third and smallest takeover bid since the rule change was confirmed. Carlton has nearly completed its friendly acquisition of Central TV, while the outcome of Granada’s hostile bid for LWT is up in the air.

Although not one of the largest stations in terms of advertising revenue, Anglia broadcasts to a region of growing prosperity and has a couple of highly significant international relationships.

In Australia, Anglia has a lucrative 17.5% stake in the Australian entertainment company Village Roadshow, which itself co-owns highly profitable theme parks with Time Warner.

In London and Los Angeles, Anglia has a production and distribution partnership with U.S. pay cabler Home Box Office, comprising three joint venture companies — the program sales and financing house Itel, drama producer Anglia TV Entertainment and Hollywood telepic specialist Citadel Entertainment.

Slow changeover

MAI started as a financial services firm, but over the past few years managing director Clive Hollick has gradually taken the company into the media and information business. Meridian, whose minority shareholders include Central TV and indie producer SelecTV, began broadcasting last year after ousting TVS Entertainment in the license auction.

Unlike Anglia, Meridian does not have its own production company or international distribution arm. It commissions programs from independent producers, and overseas sales are handled by Central TV Enterprises. This means that MAI’s takeover of Anglia poses no immediate threat to the futures of Itel or ATE, and may create new opportunities for them.

Anglia said Tuesday that it expected to report a pretax profit of not less than T11 million ($ 16.4 million) for 1993, on sales of over T103 million ($ 154 million).

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