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31/08/2006

SMG Rejects Merger Proposals With UTV

Scottish Media Group (SMG) has rejected a merger proposal advanced by UTV.
UTV, which owns the Ulster ITV licence and radio station TalkSport, made its second merger proposal on the 21 August and was "disappointed" by the SMG response.
Reports also suggest that as the owner of Virgin Radio has a higher market capitalisation than UTV, the merger would see SMG shareholders lose out.
It is thought that SMG shareholders - who include DJ Chris Evans - are instead interested in a full cash takeover bid for the company.
Entertainment and Media Industry analyst Richard Findlay believes it would be bad for the Scottish media if SMG lost its independence to Belfast-based UTV and was no longer run from Scotland.
Findlay commented: "It would be preferable to keep the company controlled and managed from Scotland, and it would be a pity to see it pass outside the country.”
Any deal would also require the backing of ITV as it has a 17% stake in SMG, which also owns Grampian and Scottish TV and the Pearl & Dean advertising business.
In a statement UTV said: "UTV made a revised improved merger proposal to the board of SMG on 21 August 2006, pursuant to which SMG’s shareholders would receive a 52% interest in the merged entity. UTV is disappointed that SMG has rejected this revised proposal which it believes would be highly attractive from a strategic, commercial and financial perspective and would create shareholder value for both SMG’s and UTV’s shareholders."
The statement also emphasized: "UTV has expressed its willingness on a number of occasions to meet with the board of SMG. UTV is not aware of any offer from the board of SMG to meet to discuss its proposals, and has had no contact with SMG since Wednesday 23 August."
SMG is currently considering its position and will make a further announcement in due course.
SMG shares are up 10% in recent days to value the company at around £241 million. UTV has a market value put at around £175 million.
(DS/SP)
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