ITV price rises following NTL bid news

Reports claim NTL will ask Jackson to head merged company

LONDON — ITV, Blighty’s battling terrestrial broadcaster, saw its stock price rise today as reports suggested that NTL could bid up to 130 pence (248 cents) a share as part of its merger overtures.

NTL is understood to be in the throes of assembling a £5 billion ($9.5 billion) bid for ITV, which would value ITV stock at around 120 pence (229 cents).

In the spring the ITV board rejected a bid offering 130 pence (248 cents) a share.

Talks between the two media giants are expected to be held this week.

Reports claim that NTL has lined up British TV veteran Michael Jackson, now working in New York running the programming arm of internet giant, IAC, to run a merged outfit.

In early trading today ITV stock climbed to 114 pence (218 cents), after closing at 111 pence (212 cents) on Friday, the day after it emerged that NTL had approached ITV regarding a merger.

Despite the stock price hike, most analysts and commentators have been dismissive to the point of rudeness about a tie-up between the two groups, both of which are struggling to come to terms with the impact of new media.

Writing today in British broadsheet, the Guardian, commentator Steve Hewlett, a former program topper at ITV combo, Carlton, likened the situation between NTL and ITV to “two old drunks snuggling up on a park bench.”

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