The FT is reporting that Richard Desmond has asked advisers to work on a possible sale of Channel 5, Britain’s fifth terrestrial television network. Channel 5 was launched in March 1997 and acquired by Mr Desmond for £103.5m in 2010.
The FT quotes a person familiar with the process as saying that Mr Desmond would seek a price in excess of £700m, equivalent to 10 times the network’s expected earnings before interest and taxation this year.
The group returned to operating profits with £20.6m in the first half of 2013, compared with a £16.1m loss a year earlier, although viewing figures have remained steady. In November 2013, Channel 5 was the fifth most popular television channel in the UK with a 3.9 per cent share of the monthly average viewing figures according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB).
Potential buyers are said to include ITV and US network Turner Broadcasting.