campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 24 November 2006 12:00AM
Paul Richards, an analyst at Numis, said: "It's difficult to see ntl increasing its offer. The ITV board has indicated there is no strategic logic to getting together, and it won't consider an offer involving ntl's Nasdaq paper, so, at 135p-a-share, Sky has drawn a line in the sand."
Last Friday, BSkyB bought 17.9 per cent of ITV's stock at 135p-a-share, a price well above ntl's offer and ITV's current share price of 111p.
This effectively blew the ntl deal out of the water and led Sir Richard Branson, ntl's largest shareholder, to accuse Sky of having "damaged the plurality of British media".
Ofcom is seeking submissions from ITV and Sky as it decides whether the Sky purchase constitutes a "change in control" at ITV. This initial investigation will take six weeks, and Ofcom will work with the Office of Fair Trading on any further inquiries.
City sentiment suggests that the ITV deal may have been a bridge too far for the indebted Ntl. Richards added: "Ntl has a lot of plates spinning, to try and rebrand its UK business and to turn around ITV at the same time is a tall order, especially when you're $10 billion in debt."
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk