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ITV has agreed to acquire 10 per cent of UTV, which owns the television assets of UTV Media, for a total cash consideration of £100 million (€136m). This is subject to regulatory and UTV Media shareholder approval. The transaction will be financed through existing cash and debt facilities.
The deal further strengthens ITV’s free to air business and enables it to run a more efficient network. On completion of the acquisition ITV will own 13 of the 15 regional licences for the Channel 3 network and the combined business will benefit from ITV’s continued investment in content, its advertising sales team and broadcast infrastructure.
UTV is the market leading commercial broadcaster and the most watched channel in Northern Ireland, broadcasting ITV content alongside high quality local programming. UTV Ltd also owns 100 per cent of UTV Ireland, which launched a new dedicated channel for the Republic of Ireland on 1 January 2015. UTV Ireland is already the second most watched channel in peak in Ireland and ITV intends to strengthen the channel further with high-quality ITV programming at its core.
“We have a long-standing relationship with UTV, which has been the leading commercial broadcaster in Northern Ireland for many years thanks to its strong regional identity and blend of excellent local programming and strong network shows,” said ITV Chief Executive Adam Crozier.
“UTV Television’s strategic objectives are closely aligned with our own and we are very pleased that they are joining the ITV family. We are looking forward to working with the team going forward.”
John McCann, Group Chief Executive of UTV Media plc, said: “The market leading success of our television business has been built over many years on the well-established formula of high quality local programming packaged around an attractive network schedule. Becoming part of the ITV Family is by far the best way to take UTV’s Television business forward with an ongoing focus to provide brilliant television to viewers right across Ireland.”
Richard Huntingford, Chairman of UTV said: “The last few years have seen increasing consolidation in the global television sector, creating media companies that span content, broadcast and platform ownership. Having successfully extended the reach of our television business with the launch of UTV Ireland, I believe that Shareholder value can be maximised through our television interests becoming part of ITV’s global broadcast and content business.
“I believe that the price reflects the inherent value within the UTV Television business. ITV will be a good owner of the business and, with its scale and reach, will be able to accelerate the future growth of the business. I want to thank all the UTV Television staff for their outstanding service to UTV over many years, and I wish them every success in the future.
“As the UTV Pension Scheme will remain with UTV Limited, this removes any future funding liability from the Continuing Group, and our Shareholders will benefit from a significant return of cash. We plan to continue to pursue our successful strategy in our radio businesses.”