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BBC shortlists 18 for sale of £150m Broadcast business

LONDON – The BBC has shortlisted 18 bidders, including Apax Partners Thomson/Technicolour, for the sale of its commercial subsidiary BBC Broadcast, which is believed to be worth up to £150m.

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Of the 18 bidders, just two come from the industry while another 11 are finance firms, including Apax Partners, where former director general Greg Dyke works as an adviser, and venture capitalists The Carlyle Group.

The other finance firms that have made the shortlist for BBC Broadcast are Barclays Private Equity, Bank of Scotland Corporate, Kleinwort Capital, Montagu Private Equity, Palamon Capital, HgCapital, Exponent Private Equity and Bridgepoint.

Aside from French technology company Thomson/Technicolour, the other industry bidder is Liberty Media-owned Ascent Media Group.

Peter Phillips, director of business development, who is leading the sale for the BBC, said that the successful bidder will have to have a strong partnership approach with the BBC.

"We will shortly be beginning a rigorous evaluation of the 18 bidders, including assessing their effectiveness as long-term business partners of the BBC and their cultural fit," he said.

A second shortlist will be drawn up and made available by the end of May.

BBC Broadcast offers a full range of services required to promote, playout and provide access to broadcast content across all media from television to mobile phones.

The business was put up for sale as a result of internal reviews by BBC director-general Mark Thompson on how to make the BBC more accountable to its licence fee payers.

As well as axing 3,750 staff over three years and moving a further 1,500 jobs north to Manchester, Thompson warned the BBC's commercial operations would be reviewed and potentially put up for sale as part of the £320m cost-saving initiatives.

The sale is subject to final approval from the BBC governors, executive board and culture secretary Tessa Jowell.

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