Interesting to see that Sky have paid £940m in cash for ITV, which in their announcement they say they will “support ITV in any discussions to help build shareholder value”. I’m sure this has nothing to do whatsoever with NTL looking at buying the firm.
Interesting that James Murdoch says that they have no current plans to ask for a board seat and encourages the board to find a new Chief Exec. There’s lots of rumours that ITV have put on hold looking for a CE until an NTL tie-up is completed. Sky can only own a maximum of 20% of ITV according to the Comms Act so they’re not likely to put a bif in for the company (though legislation does change!) James, of course, has already said that an NTL/ITV merger would be a bad idea. They’ve also stated that they hadn’t had any discussions with the ITV board until after they had completed the transaction. Nice weekend suprise for the network centre!
The argument that it’s a good blocker deal, putting the kaibosh on the NTL transaction is obviously sound, but actually there might be some value in Sky actually encouraging the deal. If the deal goes through it potenitially makes Sky a significant shareholder in Virgin Media (the new ntl/Telewest/Virgin Mobile) and UK cable. This is something that could help their broadband drive as well as their subscription business.
Another knock-on effect maybe ITV’s relationship with the Freesat consortium – will they now be such a willing participant?