August 18: More media news today, perfectly timed for this month’s Edinburgh International Television Festival.
SMG has confirmed a story in The Times that it has received a merger approach from UTV. Scottish Media Group must the be the sector’s longest running bid target. Ulster’s UTV proposes a deal that would see SMG shareholders keep 50 per cent of the enlarged company. The market likes the sound of it: SMG shares are up 3 per cent and UTV’s are up 1½ per cent.
We’re looking for more news on NTL’s talks with the private equity consortium that is interested in bidding for it. We said this morning that Sir Richard Branson and Bill Huff, two key shareholders, were cool on the proposal – so far.
Still in medialand, WPP has turned in some first half results which, although strong, are not quite as strong as expected. The UK seems to be holding growth back a bit. Our marketing correspondent, Carlos Grande, has spoken to Sir Martin Sorrell and has a couple of decent news lines which we’ll save for the paper.
Expect more very soon about Dubai International Capital’s bid for Travelodge. We’re trying to get a story up on FT.com as fast as we can (it may already be there by the time you see this blog). We could hear more today as well on Baugur’s bid for House of Fraser,, although we might have to wait until Monday.
We’ll do more on our scoop this morning about the UK and Saudi Arabia agreeing to a £10bn deal (not surprisingly, nobody seems to want to call it Al Yamamah II) to replace the kingdom’s Tornados with Eurofighter Typhoons (follow the links for pictures). We’ll look more closely at the implications for BAE Systems, whose shares are up nearly 4 per cent. A Lex comment is up on FT.com: they say the deal is great news, although BAE now looks heavily exposed to Saudi.
We have a very jolly small feature about slot machine arcades (more the domain of 45 year old married women than truant kids apparently, and a great business to boot). Our main feature will be on accounting irregularities. It’s by Barney Jopson, who writes very clearly about these tricky topics, but just count yourselves lucky you don’t have to try to illustrate the piece.
Not a bad list for a Friday in August. Which is just as well, as the weather forecast for this weekend is dreadful, so plenty of time for newspapers.
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