Desmond Said to Study Channel 5 Sale Exceeding $1 Billion

Jan 03, 2014 9:15 am ET

(Updates with Barclays response in final paragraph.)

Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell Distribution Ltd. may seek buyers for the U.K.’s Channel 5 to cash in on a growing demand for TV assets, people familiar with the plans said.

Desmond, 62, may seek more than 700 million pounds ($1.15 billion) for the asset as new bidders enter the market and a scarcity of eligible broadcasters drives up valuations, one of the people said, asking not to be named because the decision isn’t public. Barclays Plc is working with Northern & Shell to explore a potential sale, one of the people said.

The price would compare with about $160 million that Desmond paid for the channel three years earlier. Northern & Shell bought Channel 5 in 2010 in cash from RTL Group SA. The broadcaster reaches about half of the U.K. audience each week, according to data from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board.

Channel 5 reported an operating profit of 20.6 million pounds in the first half of 2013, closely held Northern & Shell said. That was a 36.7 million-pound improvement from a year earlier, the company said.

Northern & Shell declined to comment on a potential sale of its assets through spokeswoman Mimi Turner. Barclays declined to comment. The Financial Times reported the plans on Jan. 1.

--Editors: Mark Beech, Robert Valpuesta