As government talks up Channel 4 privatisation, analysts name Netflix, Viacom, BT and Discovery as potential suitors

William Turvill
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The government is currently considering privatising Channel 4 (Source: Getty)

Netflix, Viacom, BT and Discovery have all been tipped as potential suitors for Channel 4 by media analysts.

The government is currently considering selling off the channel, which is privately funded but publicly owned.

And culture secretary John Whittingdale yesterday talked up the prospect of privatisation, saying it could leave the channel "better off".

Read more: Why Channel 4's chief exec finds privatisation talk puzzling

Following Whittingdale's latest comments, analysts are predicting interest from US media companies.

Alex De Groote, a media analyst at Peel Hunt, told City A.M. that Channel 4 could sell for around £1.5bn.

He suggested US companies Viacom, Comcast, NBC and possibly Netflix could be interested in the UK broadcaster.

£1.5bn is very realistic. It's profitable, it could be more profitable with a decent tailwind from macro and with more programming that people want to watch.

Read more: Peppa Pig maker snorts in the face of takeover rumours

Ian Whittaker, a media analyst at Liberum, suggested it could sell for between £500m and £1bn.

He named potential suitors for Channel 4 as BT in the UK and Viacom and Liberty in the US.

The key questions for any potential buyers are... the level of commitments Channel 4 actually has to keep in terms of investment in programming and types of programming...

Who would be interested? Who could you count out to begin with: obviously ITV couldn't buy them for competition reasons. BT? I don't think you could necessarily rule them out.

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Toby Syfret, of Enders Analysis, tipped Discovery and NBC in US, as well as RTL in Europe, as potential buyers.

In an investor note last month, Enders Analysis predicted a strong future for Channel 4.

As long as underlying revenue trends remain positive, which we think they will over the next five to ten years, based on our viewing and advertising projections, this can only reinforce Channel 4’s sustainability in that its business model dictates that it feed back growth in operating margins into investment in content origination; which is both good for maintaining audience share and good for the support it lends to the UK creative economy.

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