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Discovery, BSkyB could make Channel 5 bid

Channel-5---230x130US-based Discovery Communications and British satcaster BSkyB may table a joint bid for for-sale UK broadcaster Channel 5.

According to unnamed sources familiar with the talks quoted by the Financial Times, Sky would pick up Channel 5’s advertising sales business.

A deadline for bids on the broadcaster has been set for this Thursday and other interested buyers are said to include Haim Saban’s Saban Capital Group, which owns Hispanic broadcaster Univision and Power Rangers owner Saban Brands; UK telco BT; and NBCUniversalparent Comcast Communications.

Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond, who acquired the broadcaster for £103.5 million in 2010, is said to be seeking around £700 million for the company, though the FT report said it was unclear if any bid would meet that valuation.

Should Discovery and Sky win out, it would see Discovery shareholder John Malone, who also owns Liberty Global, and 21st Century Fox CEO and chairman Rupert Murdoch working side-by-side. The pair previously clashed over Malone’s 18% stake in Murdoch’s News Corp, which was eventually traded for News Corp’s controlling stake in US satcaster DirecTV.

Discovery has been particularly acquisitive in Europe in the past twelve months and just last month brought forward a plan to take a majority stake in pay TV channel Eurosport from France’s TF1 Group.