Pearson eyes remainder of Channel 5
LONDON — RTL Group will be listed on the London stock exchange beginning July 26, with an estimated value of £14 billion ($21 billion).The pan-European conglom — created in April through the merger of Pearson Television, Germany’s CLT-Ufa and Luxembourg-based Audiofina — is expected to subsequently up its presence in U.K. commercial TV. To what extent, however, will be contingent on a ruling from the British government — expected in the next few weeks — on consolidation of ownership of the ITV network. Richard Eyre, Pearson TV’s chief exec and director of strategy for RTL, has signaled interest in acquiring the 35% of Britain’s Channel 5 that the group does not already own. That stake is currently held by ITV company United News & Media, which may sell if its agreed merger with Carlton Communications is given the greenlight by Trade Secretary Stephen Byers. Not in the cards for RTL at present is a bid for United, Carlton or the third of the big ITV companies, Granada Group. Granada is expected to try to thwart the United/Carlton linkup with a hostile bid. Upon listing, RTL will float 10.3% of the company. Bertelsmann will retain a 37% stake, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (partnered with Bertelsmann in CLT-Ufa), 30%; and Pearson, parent to Pearson TV, 22%. The float will later be raised to at least 15% by early next year to rank RTL in the FTSE top 100 index.