September 9, 2014 / 2:35 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Liberty Global has no plans to increase ITV stake

(Adds quotes, background, details on the ITV deal)

By Paul Sandle

LONDON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Liberty Global has no plans to increase its stake in British broadcaster ITV, its chief strategy officer James Ryan said, after the firm took a 6.4 percent stake earlier this year as part of its European expansion.

Speaking at the Royal Television Society’s conference in London on Tuesday, Ryan said the holding gave the London-headquartered cable group a “seat at the table”, but that it had no plans to increase it at this stage.

“We do want to find some portfolio investments we can use to enhance the Virgin Media acquisition, so for us the ITV stake, where it is right now is perfect,” he said. “It gives us a seat at the table at any UK content discussions.”

Liberty Global, which entered the UK last year by buying pay-TV and broadband company Virgin Media for about $24 billion, bought BSkyB’s stake in ITV in July.

Liberty, controlled by U.S billionaire John Malone, said at the time it did not intend to make an offer for the rest of Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, but ITV’s shares shot up 9 percent on expectations of a wider bid.

Shares in ITV were down 0.5 percent by 217 pence by 1419 GMT on Tuesday, valuing the company at 8.91 billion pounds.

Ryan said Liberty was looking to buy more programmes and production houses to supply content to make its pay-TV, broadband and telephones services more attractive to customers.

“We are not affiliated to any studio, we are not affiliated to any global content producer so we are very interested in these local content opportunities,” he said.

Liberty, which gets over 90 percent of its revenue in Europe, is present in 14 markets, having built its position via acquisitions from Ireland to Romania over the past decade.

Ryan added that sports were a valuable asset for pay-TV, in part because they attracted big live audiences.

“We would like to try to get down maybe a bit closer to some of those rights,” Ryan told the audience of industry executives.

“Formula One, if you look at it, is relevant in European markets, so of course we will look at it. But I’m sure we are not the only ones.” (Editing by Louise Heavens)

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