BBC examines options for BBC Worldwide spin-off

LONDON - The BBC is reported to be examining the idea of spinning off a stake in BBC Worldwide, which is expected to report a fall in profits tomorrow.

The Sunday Times claims Goldman Sachs has been retained for advice and options include a stock market flotation.

A BBC Worldwide spokeswoman this morning reiterated a comment provided to the newspaper, saying: "Matters of BBC Worldwide ownership are the responsibility of the BBC Exec and the BBC Trust. There is no group looking at an IPO within BBC Worldwide."

BBC Worldwide has been in extended discussions with Channel 4 about setting up a joint venture.

However, there has been wrangling between the two sides about the terms and scope of the tie-up and progress has been slow, foiling hopes that a deal would be announced in last month's Digital Britain report from the government.

The Digital Britain report put forward the idea of the BBC selling part of Worldwide, which returns its profits to the corporation.

The report's author, communications minister Lord Carter, wrote that "there is a case for greater financial and operational separation between BBC Worldwide and the BBC".

BBC Worldwide will report its annual results tomorrow and profits are expected to fall from last year's record £118m level.

The Sunday Times claims profits will come in below £111m and The Mail on Sunday said they are likely to fall to less than £100m.

The reports blame the fall on the costs of aborted video-on-demand service Kangaroo and increased levels of investment including new international television channel launches.

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