CSA chief plots management buyout

Debbie Chalet, the chief executive of Carlton Screen Advertising, is plotting a management buyout of the cinema sales house as its ITV parent steps up plans to sell its non-core operations.

Reports have valued CSA at between £60 million and £70 million.

It is understood that Chalet and the CSA finance director, Trevor Davis, have teamed up with venture capitalists in order to make a bid for the company, should ITV decide to sell it off.

Chalet played down the news: "It is true that the business is under review but it is not something that I have made a formal bid for." However, she refused to rule out mounting an MBO for the business and said that if there was one it would be with the company's entire management team.

CSA handles ad sales for 65 per cent of cinemas in the UK and 95 per cent in the Republic of Ireland, and generates revenues of more than £60 million a year. Two of its biggest contracts are for the Odeon and UCI chains, although the private equity company Terra Firma recently bought these.

Following the Terra Firma acquisition, the Odeon chief executive and former chief executive of Emap Performance, Tim Schoonmaker, announced he was considering bringing ad sales in-house.

This raises the possibility of a third cinema sales house alongside CSA and Scottish Media Group's Pearl & Dean. However, this would require Terra Firma to negotiate itself out of its existing long-term contract with CSA. The company is still in the early stages of negotiating with the Competition Commission the sites it might need to dispose of.

With increased admissions and improved product, cinema has grown its share of net ad revenue from 1.1 per cent in 2002 to 1.8 per cent in 2003.