Wednesday 7 December 2016

UTV shareholders set to make £55m after £100m sale to ITV

Published 14/01/2016 | 14:31

Shareholders are expected to make £55 million following the sale of UTV to ITV, a company statement said.

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UTV Media has agreed to transfer its television assets for £100 million by the end of March.

The sale excludes its radio stations, which include UTV Radio GB and UTV Radio Ireland, and its digital media businesses.

A UTV update said: "The board proposes to return approximately £55 million (c. 57p per share ) of cash to shareholders as soon as possible after completion of the sale."

Approval from shareholders was obtained on December 1.

Chairman of UTV Richard Huntingford said: " The modest level of financial gearing and strong cash flow generation of the business will provide shareholders with an attractive combination of dividend and capital growth over the coming years."

The Belfast-based firm was the first commercial television channel in Ireland when it launched as part of the ITV Network in 1959. It has been in local control since then.

UTV Media has said it is one of the most successful media companies in the UK and Ireland, incorporating radio, television and new media.

Some of Britain's best-known TV personalities began their careers on the station, including Sky News anchor Eamonn Holmes, who started in 1979 by hosting a programme on farming.

UTV broadcaster-turned-leader of the Ulster Unionists, Mike Nesbitt, has warned Northern Ireland needs a strong local independent television station to offer competition to the BBC.

The company also owns a series of radio stations in Ireland and Britain, including TalkSport, which it retains.

The firm also launched a station in the Republic of Ireland, but it has struggled to find an audience.

UTV broadcasts many of Northern Ireland's most popular programmes.

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