BBC in private equity talks

BBC World, the commercial arm of the BBC, has confirmed it is in talks with private equity groups to raise funds for possible acquisitions. The Times suggested it wanted to raise up to £1 billion (E1.38bn).

The BBC has a £350 million commercial borrowing limit set by government. In recent years it has borrowed some of that from the EU's European Investment Bank. Chief executive John Smith has said acquisitions will play a key part in its expansion plans. Worldwide has recently bought Lonely Planet guides and taken minority stakes in independent production companies and also has a partnership with retailer Woolworths for DVD sales and a pay-TV deal with Virgin Media.

The BBC Trust, its independent governing body, has to sanction any deals done by Worldwide.

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