ITV down after BSkyB call

ITV’s shares fell at end of trading yesterday following its call for competition regulators to force BSkyB to sell its entire 17.9% stake in the UK broadcaster.

Shares closed down 4.7% yesterday at 91.3p. By 10am GMT this morning, they had risen again to 92.7p, still below Tuesday’s close of 95.8p. The share prices values ITV at approximately £3.8bn (US$8bn).

ITV yesterday said in a letter to the Consultation Commission that BSkyB should sell its entire stake in order to safeguard against any influence the media giant might have on its strategy. A provisional investigation by the commission found last month that BSkyB’s stake restricts competition and is against the public interest.

Reports emerged earlier in the week that ITV is again the subject of private equity interest, although sources have told Reuters that Apax Partners, which previously headed a consortium attempting to buy ITV in early 2006, is not interested. At that time, ITV was believed to be worth £5bn.