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ITV rejects suitor

Dyke would've returned with buyers

The U.K.’s biggest commercial terrestrial broadcaster, ITV, has rejected a takeover bid from a group of venture capital combos that, if successful, was likely to have seen the return of Greg Dyke to the embattled broadcaster.

ITV on Wednesday issued a statement to the London stock exchange following a report in the Daily Telegraph about a bid and a consequent surge in the company’s stock price.

ITV’s board, helmed by CEO Charles Allen, said it had “carefully examined the proposals” made by Apax Partners, Goldman Sachs’ Principal Investment Area and the Blackstone Group but concluded a takeover was not in the long-term interest of stockholders.

Since the ITV merger two years ago, talk of a takeover, possibly by a U.S. conglom as allowed for the first time under new media laws, has been rife, but this is the first concrete evidence of a bid.

Dyke, fired as the BBC’s director general two years ago after controversy over the Beeb reporting of the Iraq war, is an adviser to Apax.

Many inside the British TV industry would welcome Dyke’s return to ITV, where he spent the bulk of his TV career before the company he led, LWT, was bought by Granada — led by Allen — in a hostile takeover.

In recent years experts have questioned ITV’s strategic direction as it has attempted to come to terms with digital media and saw ratings for flagship ITV1 plunge.