ITV shares hit six-year highs as takeover speculation returns

SHARES in ITV hit their highest levels in almost six years yesterday on suggestions the broadcaster would be the latest target in a wave of blockbuster acquisitions.

The company has long been seen as an attractive property for overseas media giants, and with a market re-energised by recent deals for Virgin Media and NBCUniversal, ITV has been highlighted as a potential target, sending shares in the company up 2.8 per cent yesterday to value the FTSE 100 constituent at £4.85bn.

“The definitely tick the right boxes, they are a very good business and have cleared up a lot of their problems,” Liberum Capital’s Ian Whittaker said yesterday. “People are feeling a lot more confident about free-to-air broadcasting and there are people interested in the UK market.”

Potential buyers could include RTL, the European broadcaster owned by German media giant Bertelsmann. The German company is seeking to reduce its stake in RTL in a bid to finance acquisitions.

ITV’s shares last reached their current level in 2007, when it was believed to be a target for Apax.