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ITV takeover offer “wouldn’t be surprising” at current valuation, says analyst

The broadcaster's content library means it has a bundle of assets that could place it in high demand as competition drives consolidation in the media and telecoms markets
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ITV's soft outlook on TV advertising sales caused its shares to sink this morning

Media analyst at City broker Shore Capital, Roddy Davidson, said it “wouldn’t be surprising” if ITV PLC (LON:ITV) received a takeover approach at its current valuation level.

Shares in the FTSE 100 broadcaster were among the worst performers in the index at lunchtime, dropping 5% to 146.5p after it said TV advertising revenue was “softening” in the fourth quarter amid an uncertain economic environment.

READ: ITV weak as it expects softening in fourth quarter advertising, although nine-month performance in line

With the traditional revenue streams seemingly being buffeted by the twin storms of Brexit and the shift to online, many will be wondering what the next move will be for chief executive Carolyn McCall and her recently-appointed chief financial officer Chris Kennedy.

New CFO to stave off takeover?

Kennedy previously served under McCall at budget airliner easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) between 2010 and 2015, during which time the pair helped propel the firm to the FTSE 100 and quadruple its share price.

READ: ITV boss Carolyn McCall poaches former easyJet colleague as CFO

Given the impressive record, McCall may be hoping that the two of them can perform a similar turnaround for ITV amid rumours it could be the target for content-hungry conglomerates.

However, Davidson doesn’t think the appointment is linked to a possible takeover.

“They’ve got a highly qualified, appropriate looking successor which will be good for the business on an ongoing basis,” he says, adding that ITV being taken over will be more to do with competition that is driving consolidation in the media and telecoms sectors.

Interest from across the pond

While UK entities like telecoms giant BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) may be hankering after ITV’s content creation arm, Davidson says offers may be more likely to come from US players.

He cites US-listed Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA), which already holds a 10% stake in ITV, as having a “starting point if they wish to make a move”.

Sky 2.0?

Does this mean another Sky-esque bidding war could be in the offing?

“ITV has a sizeable international content library … and [the Sky auction] showed that those types of assets are heavily in demand,” Davidson says.

“If someone does make a bid, it’s probably going to trigger other interest.”

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