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ntl in potential merger with ITV [Updated]

# Nov 9, 04:29 PM by Mick

News has reached us that ntl has made an approach to ITV, about a possible merger with the broadcaster and both parties have confirmed that an interest has been made. However, as of yet, no meeting has taken place nor has any proposal been offered. ITV appear to be very keen to listen to any serious offers from the cable group.

ITV have released a statement which says:

In response to speculation, the Board of ITV confirms that it has very recently received, from the Board of NTL, a highly tentative expression of interest in holding discussions about a possible combination of NTL with ITV. In the interests of its shareholders, the Board of ITV has indicated its willingness to listen to any bona fide proposal, but to date no meeting has been held nor has any proposal been received. Accordingly, there can be no certainty that any compelling construct will be forthcoming, still less that any merger or takeover will result.

A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.

ntl have also released a statement, saying:

NTL notes the press speculation concerning ITV. NTL confirms that it has advised ITV of its interest in exploring a possible combination transaction and has scheduled an initial conversation with ITV to that end. This process is at a very preliminary stage and there is no assurance that these discussions will lead to any offer being made for ITV.

The news has caused an 8% surge in ITV’s share prices.

This confirmation follows yesterdays announcement from ntl that it intends to change its name to, ‘Virgin Media’, in the first quarter of 2007.

Update 22/11/06:

Following the news – ITV has rejected ntl’s offer of around £4.7 Billion, ITV’s board had unanimously rejected the offer claiming there was little strategic logic to the bid and that the offer materially undervalues their company.

However, the rejection follows BSkyB’s purchase of £940 Million worth of ITV shares, which prevents any takeover bid from ntl.

In a statement, ntl said:

ntl has noted BSkyB’s acquisition of a stake in ITV, which provides BSkyB with material influence over ITV, Freeview and the UK media.

ntl also notes ITV’s subsequent announcement that it has rejected an initial approach made prior to BSkyB’s stakebuilding exercise. ITV has made no effort to engage in further discussions with ntl since that initial approach.

Regardless of public statements by BSkyB, its holdings in ITV will reduce competition and raise plurality concerns in the UK media market. This is clearly not in the public interest.

ntl is considering all of its options in light of these developments.

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