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ITV sells Moving Picture Company to Thomson for £53m

LONDON - ITV has sold The Moving Picture Company, which creates special effects for films such as 'Troy' and 'Harry Potter', to Technicolour, part of the French technology company Thomson, for £52.7m.

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The move is part of ITV's plan to sell off its non-core assets after the Carlton Communications and Granada merger.

ITV's sales process began in September when it disposed of Carlton Books for £3m. Later that month, the network sold its 5.5% stake in Thomson to Citigroup and UBS for £162m. In October, ITV sold its 18% stake in Australian media company Village Roadshow for £36m.

Charles Allen, chief executive of ITV, said: "This is the fourth disposal of non-core assets in the last four months and has been achieved at a good price and ahead of time. We have made very significant progress on restructuring our balance sheet, reducing debt, delivering the benefits of the merger and driving shareholder value."

Thomson is believed to have outbid five others, including film company Kodak, WPP Group, US-based private equity firm Carlyle Group and former Carlton boss Michael Green.

ITV's ownership of the company originates from Carlton's acquisition of The Moving Picture Company in 1983. Since then, the business has grown significantly and now employs more than 400 people creating digital visual effects and computer animation for the advertising, music, television and feature film industries.

ITV is also considering selling Carlton Screen Advertising, its 10% shareholding in Liverpool Football Club and its stake in Australia's Seven Network. In total, ITV's non-core assets have been valued at £550m.

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