Granada and Carlton reject bidding overtures from US

LONDON - ITV companies Carlton and Granada have rejected overtures from US media giants Viacom and Saban Entertainment, which both said at the weekend that they would be interested in bidding for the merged ITV.

Saban, which is owned by 'Power Rangers' billionaire Haim Saban, and Viacom, which owns MTV and CBS, both said on Friday they might be interested in buying a merged Granada and Carlton Communications.

However, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge, Carlton chairman Michael Green said he did not think that such a move was "on the cards".

His counterpart Charles Allen, Granada chief executive, said: "From our perspective we have got a lot of growth to come. I think shareholders will want to see that they get their share of that value rather than give it away."

Last week, Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for trade and industry, said the verdict on the £4bn merger between ITV companies Carlton and Granada will be delivered in the week beginning October 6.

The Department of Trade and Industry investigation into the merger had been expected to take around 20 days to review the findings of the Competition Commission, meaning it would have been released by now, but the complexity of the case has seen the deadline extended.

Most industry watchers believe that the merger will go ahead with some compromise, whereby the merged ITV will have to sell off one of its airtime sales houses, being likely to stop ITV controlling more than 50% of the TV ad market.

Granada's Allen said he thought investors, as well as rivals, would want to see how the merged firm performed before deciding whether a bid was appropriate.

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