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Goldman Sachs, Apax and Dyke join up to make ITV bid

LONDON – ITV has received an approach from Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Apax Partners, which is being advised by Greg Dyke, to buy a controlling stake in the broadcaster.

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The Daily Telegraph today reports that the approach stops short of a complete takeover of ITV, which was yesterday valued at around £4.4bn.

The suitors are proposing to buy a £1.5bn controlling equity stake, leaving other shareholders the opportunity to stay invested in ITV, which is confronting falling ad revenues at its main channel ITV1 but expanding into digital services with the recent launch of ITV4 and its new children's channel CiTV.

ITV would then borrow heavily to refinance itself and return money to investors.

ITV's share price climbed around 9% this morning to touch 128p, up from yesterday's closing price of 117p.

According to the Telegraph, ITV is likely to come under pressure from major shareholders, including UBS, Fidelity and Brandes, to consider the approach seriously.

The move raises the prospect of a return to ITV for Greg Dyke, who has been out of television since his resignation as BBC director-general in January 2004, after the Hutton Report criticised the corporation's journalistic standards over the allegations it made that the government overstated the case that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Dyke joined Apax as an adviser in October 2004, leading to continuing speculation he would return to ITV. He was at one stage managing director of LWT, until the company fell victim to a hostile takeover by Granada in 1994.

Charles Allen, ITV's chief executive and formerly Granada chief executive, is not believed to be keen to work with Dyke.

A number of private equity houses and media companies have previously been linked to ITV, including last summer a consortium of Goldman Sachs, Apax and Time Warner.

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