Virgin Media is understood to be carrying out out a review of its TV channels that could lead to a sale of some or all of the division. It has been reported that the cable company has appointed Goldman Sachs to review the portfolio of channels including Trouble, Bravo and Living and a 50% share in UKTV.
The group is looking at options including an outright sale of the division, which could raise £800m, selling its UKTV stake, or expanding the division through acquisitions. Virgin made a tentative bid to buy or merge with ITV 15 months ago but it was blocked when satellite rival BSkyB bought a 17.9% stake in the broadcaster.
Rivals Sky, ITV and RTL, the German owner of five, are expected to be express interest in a sale of the division. The broadcasters expressed interest when Telewest “tested the market” for Flextech. However, the auction was abandoned when Telewest merged with NTL to form Virgin Media. Flextech, which was renamed Virgin Media Television (VMTV), launched a number of new channels including Virgin 1 and Virgin Central.
BBC Worldwide, which owns the remaining 50% of UKTV, could complicate any sale due to a change-of-ownership clause, which gives it approval over any new partner.