Richard Desmond mulls Channel 5 sale

Media mogul Richard Desmond is reportedly considering putting Channel 5 up for sale with a price tag of more than £700 million.

Media mogul Richard Desmond

Mr Desmond, whose Northern & Shell media group also owns the Daily Express and Star newspapers, has asked advisers at Barclays to review options for the broadcaster, including a potential sale early in the new year, according to The Financial Times.

The entrepreneur bought Channel 5 for £103.5 million in 2010 and has since overhauled the network, bringing on board programmes such as Big Brother.

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It returned to operating profit in the first half of 2013, with earnings of £20.6 million against losses of £16.1 million a year earlier.

While a sale of Channel 5 would deliver a hefty profit for Mr Desmond, it is thought there is no guarantee he will decide to offload it.

A spokesman for Northern & Shell said: “As a media group with a broad portfolio of assets, we are often the subject of speculation, but it remains our policy not to comment on these matters.”

Free-to-air broadcasters are enjoying a recovery in advertising markets after the recession.

Rival ITV recently reported a 6% hike in overall revenues for the first nine months of its financial year after net advertising revenues rose 11% in the third quarter.

Its shares have soared tenfold since 2009 thanks to the brighter advertising outlook as the economy recovers.

Mr Desmond snapped up Channel 5 three years ago from European entertainment group RTL, which had written down the value of the network by more than three quarters.