BBC announces shortlist for Broadcast arm

The four-group shortlist for acquiring BBC Broadcast contains three private equity firms including Apax Partners, the group that employs former BBC director general Greg Dyke as an advisor.

 

The BBC has announced a shortlist of four bidders for the acquisition of its transmission and branding business BBC Broadcast. Reports suggest that the business could fetch up to £150 million ($274 million; €218 million).

 

The list includes Apax Partners, the UK buyout firm that counts former BBC director general Greg Dyke among its advisors.

The deal could bring Dyke back into contact with an arm of the corporation he left in January 2004 in the wake of the Hutton Report

 

The other shortlisted bidders are Australian private equity firm Macquarie Group; Exponent Private Equity, the UK buyout firm that raised its first €400 million fund last year; and a trade buyer, French electronics group Thomson-Technicolor.

 

BBC Broadcast, the body responsible for transmitting all the BBC’s television channels, was first put up for auction last December and received 18 preliminary bids, 11 of them from private equity firms.

 

The divestment is being opposed by trade unions, which believe the company should remain an internal asset. The unions also caused problems for the corporation earlier this week when strikes over director general Mark Thompson’s plans to cut 4000 jobs interrupted BBC broadcasts.

 

The winning bid is expected to be announced in first half of July, with completion of the deal by the end of the summer.

Greg Dyke: puzzling over possible reunion with the BBC?

 

If Apax were to be successful, the deal could bring Dyke back into contact with an arm of the corporation he left in January 2004 in the wake of the Hutton Report, which criticised the BBC’s news coverage of the war in Iraq.

 

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper this morning Dyke has also agreed to chair HIT Entertainment, the company responsible for popular children’s characters such as Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine and Pingu. Apax finalised its £489 million takeover of HIT yesterday.