ITV in the crosshairs

Hollick, KKR reportedly mulling takeover

LONDON — Just two months after the U.K.’s ITV rejected a takeover bid led by former BBC topper Greg Dyke, former United Business Media CEO Clive Hollick is reportedly lining up ITV as a potential acquisition.

Hollick, who sold UBM’s ITV assets to Granada for £1.75 billion ($3.26 billion) in 2000, is said to be sizing up Blighty’s biggest commercial broadcaster on behalf of his current employer, private equity house KKR.

According to reports in the British press, KKR is talking to other private equity groups about preparing a bid for ITV should its share price fall below £1 ($1.88).

On Monday, its share price closed up slightly at $1.98 on speculation of the bid.

Last year, KKR teamed up fellow private equity house Permira to acquire pan-regional broadcaster SBS in a deal valued at $2.27 billion. A combined ITV and SBS would represent a powerful new player in the European media landscape, although KKR reportedly is likely to sell the U.K. production business.

Hollick joined KKR last year after leaving United Business Media and is currently chairman of SBS.

ITV’s board turned down Dyke’s bid of $2.45 per share in March, claiming it was not in the best interest of shareholders, but the broadcaster’s share price has fallen since then amid concerns over poor advertising revenues.

With the soccer World Cup coming up in June, ITV had been expecting to see an improvement in its ad figures but is instead bracing itself for further declines.

Analysts are now expecting news of possible cost-cutting initiatives at a planned site visit June 21. The last such event for analysts was two years ago, when Charles Allen outlined ITV’s strategy after the Granada-Carlton merger.

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