ITV will sell its stake in TV3, the commercial television channel in the Republic of Ireland, to buyout firm Doughty Hanson for £70m ($132.2m) in cash.

The deal, first announced in May, is part a series of disposals by ITV as it renews its focus on its troubled UK broadcasting operations, where a weak advertising market has hit performance at its flagship ITV1 channel.

ITV said on Wednesday that the proceeds of the sale would help it fund its programme to return £500m shareholders.

The UK’s largest commercial broadcaster has been under fire, with falling audience figures and advertising revenues and an ailing share price and Charles Allen, its chief executive, departed earlier this month.

ITV owned 45 per cent of TV3 through CanWest, the Canadian media group.

Media analysts at Goldman Sachs said the deal was expected: “This announcement is...part of ITV’s disposal programme of non-core assets which is now approaching £500m since the merger creating ITV in 2004.”

Shares in ITV slipped ¼p in morning trade in London to 105 ¾p.

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