It is thought ITV, the UK’s largest commercial station, is considering an acquisition of the loss-making channel to bolster its commercial audience share. Despite attracting eight per cent of this audience, Five has struggled to convert it into revenue.
Its Luxembourg-based owner RTL is understood to be interested in taking a minority stake in the company if ITV does make a formal bid.
An ITV spokesman played down the speculation, telling City A.M.: “This is not something that is currently being considered.”
But a source close to the matter said: “ITV is a consolidatory firm, so there is always going to be speculation, especially with a new chief executive coming in.
“It’s also well known that the Five board have been touting the business, so ITV would seem like an obvious fit. But I don’t think anything is going to happen any time soon, Crozier is already going to have his hands full.”
A possible tie-up between Five and Channel 4 fell through last year.
Crozier officially started his tenure at ITV this morning.
The former Royal Mail boss could pocket £2.2m for his first year at the helm, possibly earning as much as £16m by 2015. He will receive a basic salary of £775,000 and a massive £620,000 “golden hello”.
He is expected to meet his bonus targets after the advertising market recorded an astonishing bounce-back from the recession this month.