Media News: Gavin quits BBC with Worldwide MBO plan

BBC Worldwide chief executive Rupert Gavin has quit to lead an expected management buyout attempt of the BBC's commercial arm, home to BBC Magazines as well as TV interests including UKTV and BBC America.

Gavin announced his exit at the end of last week within 72 hours of a Parliamentary Select Committee Hearing in which the BBC confirmed that it was considering selling off BBC Worldwide.

Gavin said he was keeping his career options open, but admitted that, if the BBC chose to dispose of Worldwide, he would look closely at making a bid. Quitting his £373,000 salaried position without a job to go to suggests Gavin is confident the BBC will sell off Worldwide, and removes any conflict of interest in his bidding.

The BBC said it was also considering selling parts of BBC Worldwide or entering into partnerships with other media companies. It recently held talks with The National Magazine Company about a possible joint venture.

BBC Magazines is the third-biggest UK magazine publisher, with 38 consumer titles, including Radio Times, the second-biggest newsstand title in the UK, with a circulation of 1,157,481.

Emap, IPC and NatMags are almost certain to be interested in buying BBC Magazines. Flextech - the content division of Telewest Communications, which jointly owns UKTV with the BBC - is likely to want to buy the BBC's stake.

Last week BBC Worldwide unveiled record cashflows of £141m in its 2003/04 financial year, 14% up on the year before.

BBC Worldwide's business also covers overseas sales of BBC TV shows, books, DVDs and videos, new media and product licensing.

Raymond Snoddy, page 20.

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