Boss ouster buzz in Brit merger denied

Rumors put to rest about media heads

LONDON — A leading shareholder in British TV firms Granada and Carlton Communications dismissed a report on Monday that it wanted to oust the two broadcasters’ bosses once the companies merge.

The Sunday Times newspaper reported that Anthony Bolton, an influential U.K. fund manager at Fidelity Investments, was hatching a plot to force out ITV chairman Michael Green and chief executive Charles Allen.

Fidelity Investments has a 10% stake in Carlton and 3% in Granada, which means Bolton could influence the views of other investors. He is understood to have approached a number of media figures about taking over the reins at commercial web ITV.

“Fidelity Investments wishes to state its wholehearted support in all respects for the merger of the two companies as announced in October 2002,” Fidelity said in a statement.

Merger, effectively a takeover by Granada, values Carlton at around & pound;1.2 billion ($1.95 billion). U.K. regulators are still scrutinizing the tie-up.

Carlton and Granada have been criticized over management of ITV, which has struggled to arrest falling ratings. The companies lost $1.6 billion when ITV Digital shuttered last year.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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