NTL has confirmed that it has scheduled an "initial conversation" with ITV to explore a possible "combination transaction". It follows speculation earlier today that the cable operator was considering a "friendly takeover" of the broadcaster.
Yesterday (Wednesday November 8), NTL announced it would rebrand early next year as Virgin Media, following the merger of NTL and Telewest and its subsequent acquisition of Virgin Mobile (MW September 21).
NTL’s share price is stronger than ITV’s, currently standing at just over $27 (£14.20). Both ITV and NTL have been the subject of rumours of private equity bids over the summer.
Analysts have pointed to ITV’s continuing woes as its flagship channel ITV1 suffers from falling advertising revenue and audience share. The broadcaster has also been searching for a chief executive since Charles Allen announced his departure in the summer. The board met earlier this week to consider a shortlist drawn up by headhunter Zygos.