ITV sells Friends Reunited for £25m

| August 6, 2009 | 0 Comments

ITV has sold Friends Reunited for £25 million to Brightsolid Limited, the company owned by DC Thomson, Dundee-based publisher of children’s comic, the Beano.

The sale comes as the broadcaster announced a pre-tax loss of £105 million in the first half of 2009, while advertising revenues plummeted by 15% - however this was marginally better than the 17% decline in the overall market.

ITV bought Friends Reunited in 2005 for £170 million but chief executive, Michael Grade, told The Times that “£25 million “was the best price we could get”.

Commenting on the group’s results, Mr Grade said: “Our financial results for the half year reflect the impact of the unprecedented downturn in television advertising, offset by the comprehensive action we are taking in mitigation.”

In the meantime, ITV is in the midst of a cost-cutting exercise which will see the broadcaster deliver savings of £155 million in 2009 and £285 million a year by 2011.

The company’s pension fund deficit had escalated to £538 million at the end of June - compared with £178 million in December 2008.

Friends Reunited, the social networking site, was established 9 years ago by Steve and Julie Pankhurst and within 6 months, it had acquired 3,000 members. Within a year, this had grown to 2.5 million.

The website was developed to help people find old classmates from schools, colleges and clubs and had attracted more than 15 million members by December 2005.

However, the website has since been overtaken by other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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