London Report: FTSE climbs after talk of ITV takeover by Liberty Global

BRITAIN’S top equity index inched up yesterday, led by gains in broadcaster ITV on talk of a takeover from Virgin Media owner Liberty Global.

ITV’s shares hit their highest levels since January 2001, up 3.6 per cent. The speculation was fuelled by a report in The Telegraph saying Liberty was canvassing support from major ITV shareholders following its acquisition of a 6.4 per cent stake. ITV declined to comment on the rumours.

Analysts at Liberum noted a bid would have to take into account an anticipated rule change involving retransmission fees. Currently regulations stop ITV from charging these fees – potentially pure profits – for its biggest channel ITV1.

Meanwhile, BAE Systems advanced 2.4 per cent, with traders citing the effect of a BofA Merrill Lynch upgrade of the defence company to “buy” from “underperform”.

The FTSE 100 index closed up by 5.56 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,825.31. Trading volumes were only at 66 per cent of their 90-day daily average, with New York closed for a public holiday.

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