Primesight auction halted as SMG seeks better price

LONDON - Primesight has pledged that it is "business as usual" following last week's surprise announcement that it would not be sold - for the time being.

The outdoor company had been the subject of an auction held by its owner SMG that was thought to have been narrowed down to two bidders (Media Week, 10 April, page 7).

But the media company, which has had new management in place since February, decided to halt the auction until it could get a better price. At the same time, it announced a poor set of results and said it would float another arm, Virgin Radio, through an initial public offering, freeing it up to focus on its core business of television, for which a development plan will be announced in June.

Primesight chief executive Naren Patel said: "Any business is for sale at any time if the price is right and we are operating on that basis. SMG has been a great owner - it has tripled our size and invested millions of pounds.

"From our point of view, it will continue to be a good owner, so it's business as usual."

The outdoor company, which last week announced a deal to sell point of sale advertising within the UK's major multiple supermarkets (Media Week, 10 April, page 5), outperformed the rest of the company in the 2006 results released on Thursday, posting a 15% rise in revenues, compared with an overall drop of 38%, to £18.1m.

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