ITV Considers Takeover Bid for Channel 4, Sunday Times Reports
(Bloomberg) -- ITV Plc is considering a bid for Channel 4 Television Corp. after the U.K. government started a review earlier this year about the future ownership of the state-owned broadcaster, The Sunday Times reported.
ITV appointed advisers from Credit Suisse and Robey Warshaw LLP to advise it on potential options, according to the Oct. 23 report, which didn’t specify where it got the information from. Michael Grade, chairman of Miroma Ventures and a former chief executive officer of Channel 4, is also considering a bid in consultation with bankers from Rothschild & Co., the newspaper said.
ITV, Credit Suisse and Robey Warshaw declined to comment to the Times, as did Miroma.
The newspaper said that at least one U.S. private equity firm has also sounded out advisers in London with regards to Channel 4. Other potential bidders which could show interest are Comcast-owned Sky and ViacomCBS, which runs Channel 5.
In July, The Telegraph reported that Discovery Inc. was holding informal talks about a potential bid too, which could provide the broadcaster with more favorable advertising deals in the U.K. without partnering the BBC. A Discovery spokesman told the newspaper then that the company was not preparing to table an offer as it was focused on its merger with WarnerMedia.
The government started the review of Channel 4 in July, saying the broadcaster’s reliance on funding from advertisements makes it vulnerable to an industry that’s migrating away from traditional, linear TV. Set up by Margaret Thatcher in 1982, the free-to-air channel is required to reinvest its profits back into programming to support local talent.
The U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said that moving Channel 4 into private ownership could allow it to “access new capital, create strategic partnerships, and reach international markets only available through the private sector.”
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