FT: BBC in talks over floating Worldwide

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The BBC has been holding talks with advisors in the City about floating part of its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, as a response to calls for it to reduce its market holdings.

The Financial Times reported this morning that sources said banks Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse were part of the advisory process, however neither would comment to the paper.

Sources said floatation was unlikely before the end of 2010, at the earliest.

Worldwide is an attractive business. It operates 23 TV channels in more than 100 countries and also sells BBC programme formats, branded magazines and the Lonely Planet guides. Bankers estimate its value at £2bn.

The BBC Trust yesterday announced that it would clip the wings of Worldwide with Chairman Sir Michael Lyons saying the Trust and BBC management had an open mind on the future ownership of its commercial arm.

Lyons said a separation of Worldwide was: ‘possible to imagine . . . but it would be a very, very complicated process…It’s not as if I am actually saying we are about to do something. I am acknowledging that others have speculated. We have not explored that issue.”

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