ITV opts to release TV3

UK broadcaster ITV has announced the sale of its 45% interest in Irish independent broadcaster TV3 to private equity buyer Doughty Hanson, confirming that it will not exercise its pre-emption rights to match the €265m (US$338.4m) buyout offer for all the privately owned free-to-air commercial television channel.

On May 22, UK-based Doughty Hanson emerged as the winner of an auction to buy TV3 that was sparked by 45% shareholder CanWest Global Communications’ decision to sell its stake.

CanWest was in effect selling half a 90% interest in TV3, which it held through a joint venture with ITV. Under the terms of that joint venture, ITV had a pre-emption right that gave it the opportunity to match any offer for the CanWest stake, but that forced it to offer its own stake if it declined to match the winning bid.

While the private equity buyer won the auction for the Canadian media group’s stake, its acquisition of all of TV3 remained dependent on ITV deciding against using the pre-emption right, held through its Granada Media Group subsidiary. ITV had 90 days to consider its response and opted to sell.

TV3’s minority shareholders, a group of Irish media entrepreneurs, are also selling their 10% stake in the business.