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Endemol Holding sinks flotation speculation

Rumors have increased since leadership changes

AMSTERDAM — Endemol Holding, the umbrella outfit for the global producers of such formats as “Big Brother,” has denied reports in the British press that it plans a £2 million ($3.77 million) flotation on the London Stock Exchange.

The Sunday Express, quoting unidentified sources, reported Sunday that Endemol’s Spanish parent Telefonica had asked investment bank Merrill Lynch to prepare for a listing by the end of the summer.

Endemol spokeswoman Jonni Abbenhuis denied this. “At this point we have no plans to go on the London Stock Exchange,” she said.

Sales rumors have increased substantially since Endemol brought in new leadership, headed up by former U.K. execs, at the beginning of this year. It is believed any management buyout is likely to come from — or be led by — the U.K. side.

Last year, Telefonica turned down a management bid led by a French group because it was too low.

Telefonica paid $7 billion in shares for Endemol in 2000 and is thought to be holding out for an offer close to that price.

Endemol’s four-person board includes chief creative officer Peter Bazalgette and chief operating officer Tom Barnicoat, both formerly Endemol U.K. toppers. CEO is Telefonica insider Joaquin Agut and chief financial officer is Alex Oostvogel.

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