Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Double Dose of Hard Luck for Goldman in ITV Battle; CITY COMMENT

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Double Dose of Hard Luck for Goldman in ITV Battle; CITY COMMENT

Article excerpt


RUPERT MURDOCH once told me that he never claimed to be good at running his businesses; his real talent was for screwing up the opposition.

He made that comment 25 years ago, but clearly the talent has not left him, and has been passed on to son James, chief executive of BSkyB.

BSkyB's purchase of 18 % of ITV effectively puts that company in quarantine, and leaves the potential bidder for it, cable company NTL, up the creek without a strategy. Bad luck too for Goldman Sachs, which apparently shipped one of its crack American teams over here from New York to act for NTL and show the London office how real men do mergers and acquisitions. Perhaps they will turn it into a business school case study- It must be doubly frustrating for Goldman because word is that it had planned a dawn raid today to snap up those very shares Murdoch has grabbed. Goldman was clearly outwitted by Morgan Stanley, so that leaves it with nothing to do except kick up a fuss about monopoly and hope the regulator comes to its aid by forcing Murdoch to unwind the deal.

It's hard to see how that could be done, though. After all, it is perfectly legal.

And if you go back to when BSkyB was formed by the merger of Sky and British Satellite Broadcasting, Granada Television (now part of ITV) emerged with a 15% holding. No one complained then.

Fat chance of this ads ban working

I DON'T recollect voting for the creation of Ofcom, the communications regulator.

Nor do I recall, when the Bill to set it up was going through Parliament, much debate about how it would use its powers to determine what was suitable fare to watch on TV.

It was much more to do with the changes in technology - the arrival of the internet and the convergence between new technologies and traditional media creating the need for a regulator to police the new space to stop any one party becoming dominant. (Cue for hollow laughter, perhaps, after Murdoch's swoop on ITV.) Because of this background, I find it astonishing Ofcom can decide to ban TV advertising of junk food and even more astonishing the food industry seems likely passively to accept it without a legal challenge. …

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