Major buyout firms eyeing TV3 Ireland: reports

A number of major buyout firms are said to be eyeing TV3 Ireland, after its current owner gave up on raising new funds.

According to Sky News, private equity groups, including Carlyle, had held preliminary discussions with UK private equity firm Doughty Hanson, its current owner, about a possible takeover of TV3.

Doughty Hanson bought TV3 in 2006.

It was thought the loss of a number of key programmes - such as 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale' - to UTV Ireland had hit its audience share.

Reports had suggested that Doughty Hanson was unlikely to recoup the €265 million it paid for the business nearly a decade ago.

According to Doughty Hanson CEO Stephen Marquardt, the company had reflected on several years of discussions with existing investors and, while the day's announcement was disappointing for those investors that had committed to the current fundraising efforts, it pre-empted further prolonged uncertainty.

He added the company would next review with its employees and investors to explore the possibility of another fund in the future.

A number of other media groups, including Liberty Global, were also reported to have interest in TV3 acquisition.

Meanwhile, reports said Doughty was not likely to recoup the €265 million it paid for the business nearly a decade ago.

A number of other media groups, including Liberty Global, had also reportedly expressed an interest in acquiring TV3, although it was clear whether they planned to table formal offers.

News of the early-stage discussions with potential buyers such as Carlyle comes in the week that Doughty said it would abort its plans to raise €2 billion for a new fund and focused instead on realisation of value from its residual investments.

At one time, among Europe's pre-eminent private equity groups, the firm suffered a major blow in 2012 when Nigel Doughty, its co-founder and the then owner of Nottingham Forest FC, died after a heart attack.

Stephen Marquardt, Doughty's chief executive, said this week: ''Over the past three decades, we have focused consistently on taking all steps necessary to achieve strong exits for our portfolio investments and we will now be more focused than ever on achieving that ambition.

"Significant co-investment by the team in Funds IV and V and the prospect of carried interest as a result of strong performance, means the interests of the professionals at Doughty Hanson and our investors remain totally aligned.