RTL getting closer to ITV bid

Bertelsmann has $1.7 bil war chest to invest

COLOGNE, Germany -- European broadcasting giant RTL appears to be moving closer to a bid for Britain's ITV after media reports that RTL parent Bertelsmann has given the move a green light.

The Mohn family, which controls Bertelsmann, has reportedly approved a $1.7 billion war chest for European television acquisitions, with ITV on the top of the shopping list. Bertelsmann on Monday declined to comment.

The German giant is in a buying mood after selling its 50% stake in music group Sony BMG to Sony Corp. for more than $1 billion.

But RTL chief exec Gerhard Zeiler will still need to raise additional cash from equity markets to mount a bid for ITV, currently valued on the London Stock Exchange at just under $3 billion. That could prove tricky with banks still reeling from the global credit crunch.

If RTL makes a move on ITV, all roads would go through BSkyB. A British court ruled last week that the pay TV operator must sell off its 17.9% stake in the free-to-air broadcaster.
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