BSkyB would sue for ITV losses

BSkyB could take legal action if it is forced into a loss-making sale of its 17.9 per cent stake in ITV after the Competition Commission said the shareholding was anti-competitive.

Although it will be up to the business and regulatory reform minister to decide on what remedy to prescribe when he receives the final report, the Commission has suggested forcing BSkyB to sell all or part of the ITV stake.

One of BSkyB’s non-executive directors has said that if the satellite broadcaster made a loss on its investment because it was forced to sell, it would be “bound to” seek legal redress.

The argument is that the company had stayed within the 20 per cent shareholding limit set down by the Communications Act 2003 when it bought into ITV and should not be penalised for abiding by the letter of the law.

Meantime, BSkyB has said it will continue to negotiate with the regulator as it compiles its report. It is expected to agree to restrictions on how it exercises its voting rights. One suggestion is that it promise to abide by the wishes of ITV’s executive chairman, Michael Grade, on any crucial votes.

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