ITV shares rise on Mediaset reports

Endemol taps broadcaster's CEO Charles Allen

LONDON -- Shares in ITV surged almost 7%, to 43.4 pence (76 cents), on Monday on reports that Italian media group Mediaset is "looking at" a possible bid for the troubled British commercial broadcaster.

The news came as it was announced that former ITV chief executive Charles Allen had been appointed nonexecutive director of Mediaset-backed reality producer Endemol Prods.

The Endemol appointment comes as part of his role as senior adviser to the private-equity arm of Goldman Sachs, which acquired the "Big Brother" and "Deal or No Deal" producer last year.

Mediaset director Gina Nieri told Italian journalists that the company -- controlled by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- is looking at a number of potential acquisition opportunities including ITV.

"We are looking at a bunch of dossiers including ITV, but there is no real negotiation," Nieri said.

A Mediaset spokesman said the company is closely watching the outcome of BSkyB's 17.9% stake in ITV, which the British satcaster has been ordered by regulators in London to sell down.

"As all other European broadcasters, at Mediaset we are closely watching the ITV stake owned by BSkyB," spokesman Paolo Calvani told Reuters.
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