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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 17:06 GMT
ITV shares on London stock market
Granada and Carlton
Jobs may be lost in the Granada and Carlton merger
Shares in ITV plc, the group formed by the 4.5bn merger of Carlton and Granada, have started trading on the London Stock Exchange.

The group represents all the former ITV regional companies in the UK except Scottish, Grampian, Ulster and Channel.

Dealing in Carlton and Granada shares closed on Friday; ITV shares gained 7p or 5% on the day to close at 148 pence.

Large shareholders controversially blocked Carlton chairman Michael Green's appointment as ITV chairman.

Efficiency savings

Granada and Carlton have claimed the tie-up will create one of the leading broadcasters in Europe, with more investment in programmes, greater efficiency and lower costs.

Savings of up to 100m are targetted as a result of the merger, and there may be redundancies.

The two groups, which together employ about 8,500 staff, are planning to integrate certain broadcasting activities to improve efficiency and remove duplication of operations.

The chief executive of the new company is Charles Allen, who is stepping down from his role as chairman of Granada.

'Chance to deliver'

He told BBC Radio Four's Today programme that he did not fear a Green-type cull from his post, despite media speculation disgruntled shareholders may be trying to oust him.

"We have got to look at what shareholders have asked me to do... we are well on the way to delivering 100m benefits as promised.

"We are actually performing better than we have done in the past ten years, which gives us the chance to deliver for advertisers, viewers and shareholders."

Mr Allen said the new ITV would not use its monopoly to increase rates for advertisers.

And he said the new company had a new multi-channels strategy, which would see the launch of new digital channels.

Positive signs

Bob Wootton, spokesman for British advertisers, said he believed the merger would be good news for the UK industry as the new company would be "driven" to achieve.

Meanwhile shares in the new firm were rated "buy" by Swiss broker UBS, which said the company had room for cost savings, and was well-geared into economic recovery.

And CSFB agreed that the 100m merger savings target should "comfortably be beaten".

While Goldman also initiated coverage of ITV with an "outperform" rating.




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