The private equity consortium bidding for control of commercial broadcaster ITV has abandoned its plans after its latest offer was rejected.
ITV has regularly been tipped as a takeover target
But it said it could return with a bid for ITV if a third party made an offer.
Earlier on Friday ITV spurned a revised bid from the consortium, which includes investment bank Goldman Sachs, Apax and The Blackstone Group, as too risky.
The consortium would have invested £1.3bn of their own money, but also saddled ITV with £3.5bn of debt.
Its latest offer would have given ITV shareholders 86p in cash on top of each share, or 130p in cash if they sold up.
In a statement, ITV said that this level of borrowing would "be unduly risky for a business that operates in a cyclical environment and has high operational gearing".
It added: "This high level of debt would have enabled the consortium to buy, for less than £1.3bn, a 48% stake in a company which, immediately prior to the leak of the consortium's approach, had a market capitalisation of £4.8bn."
The company recently announced plans to return £300m to shareholders.
It has been the subject of repeated takeover speculation, largely because of the falling advertising revenues on its main channel, ITV1, which dropped by £50m in 2005.
But despite this fall, it recently announced results for 2005 that included a 42% rise in operating profit to £460m, as well as a halving of its pension deficit to £325m.