Friday 23 February 2018

TV3 owner waits in wings as takeover speculation mounts after ITV's Crozier quits

ITV has bought World Productions, the company which made hit drama ‘Line of Duty’
ITV has bought World Productions, the company which made hit drama ‘Line of Duty’

ITV CEO Adam Crozier is stepping down after seven years, as the UK broadcaster shakes up its executive ranks amid a Brexit-derived advertising slowdown.

Mr Crozier will leave on June 30 and a successor will be announced "in due course", ITV said.

Finance Director Ian Griffiths will take on the added role of chief operating officer, and chairman Peter Bazalgette will be executive chairman during the search.

Mr Crozier joined ITV in 2010 after stints running advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Britain's Football Association and the Royal Mail.

ITV - which owns UTV in Northern Ireland, and is known for the soap opera 'Coronation Street' - made a string of acquisitions under Crozier including 'The Voice' maker Talpa Media, diversifying the company to make it less dependent on advertising.

In keeping with that policy ITV said yesterday that it had acquired World Productions, the producer of BBC hit drama 'Line of Duty'. A bid to buy 'Peppa Pig' producer Entertainment One ended without a deal last year.

The company is 9.9pc owned by TV3 and Virgin Media owner John Malone's Liberty Global and is a perennial subject of takeover speculation, which has intensified since the Brexit vote.

Liberty "is frequently discussed in the press as a potential acquirer of ITV", Tamsin Garrity, an analyst with Jefferies International, said in a research note. "The change in CEO may lead some to view this as more or less likely." ITV shares fell 1.2pc to 208.9 yesterday. They have almost quadrupled since Crozier became CEO.

The departure itself has been in the works for some time. Sky News reported in December that ITV had hired executive-search firm Spencer Stuart for succession planning. "It is somewhat surprising that ITV haven't been able to find a successor yet for Crozier," Neil Campling, an analyst with Northern Trust Capital Markets, said in a note. "They've had five to six months."


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