Firms swarm round BBC Broadcast

The BBC, the UK government-run TV and radio broadcasting corporation, is evaluating 18 bids as the auction for its commercial subsidiary BBC Broadcast goes into the second round. The sale has attracted widespread interest from financial and industry buyers.

Financial bidders include Advent International, Apax Partners, Bank of Scotland Corporate, Barclays Private Equity, Bridgepoint, Exponent Private Equity, HgCapital, Kleinwort Capital, Montagu Private Equity, Palamon Capital Partners and Carlyle. Ascent Media Group and Thomson/Technicolor are among the potential trade buyers.

“We will shortly be beginning a rigorous evaluation of the 18 bidders, including assessing their effectiveness as long-term business partners of the BBC and their cultural fit, to produce a shortlist towards the end of May,” said Peter Phillips, director of business development, who is leading the sale for the BBC.

BBC Broadcast is active in the distribution and promotion of multimedia content and offers access to content across a variety of media. The sale follows on from the BBC’s internal review of its commercial businesses. The review concluded that services provided by BBC Broadcast did not necessarily need to remain under the ownership of the BBC.

The Corporation also said that a new owner would provide opportunities for growth that were not available under the current ownership, with the stability of an ongoing contract in place with the BBC. The sale is subject to the approval of the BBC governors and executive board and the UK Secretary of State for culture, media and sport.

Apax’ media advisory board includes Greg Dyke, the former director general of the BBC. He resigned a year ago on publication of the Hutton Report into the death of Dr David Kelly, the Iraq weapons inspector.