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BSkyB to appeal against ITV ruling

22 февраля 2008

BSkyB confirmed on Thursday that it would formally submit a case on Friday that the Competition Commission made mistakes at every turn in recommending that the satellite broadcaster should be compelled to sell most of its stake in ITV.

The findings, which would see BSkyB divesting at least 10.4 percentage points of its 17.9 per cent holding in the commercial broadcaster, were accepted last month by John Hutton, secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform.

BSkyB’s appeal is aimed not at the minister, but at the Competition Commission’s original findings. BSkyB said in a statement on Thursday that it would take its case to the Competition Appeals Tribunal, which has the power to quash part or all of the previous findings and to send the case back to the Competition Commission for further consideration.

The extension to the process will prolong uncertainty over ITV’s shares.

Last Monday, a person close to the company had told the FT: “We think the Competition Commission got it wrong at every key step leading to this decision.”

The company objects to the Commission’s findings that its £940m raid on ITV shares in November 2006 created a merger situation, and that it had had an adverse effect on competition.

It has also challenged the Commission’s proposed remedy – that BSkyB sell down to a stake of 7.5 per cent or less. The group had offered instead to place its shares in a blind trust, limiting its ability to influence shareholder votes.

Chris Goodall of Enders Analysis said: “On this occasion we think Sky has a small, but not negligible, chance of success.”

Источник: Financial Times

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