UK - ITV has started preliminary discussions with the trustees of its pension fund over a partnership arrangement under which one of its subsidiaries would provide asset backing to the scheme.
The television company said the partnership between the scheme and SDN - an ITV subsidiary which holds the rights to broadcast digital channels over a certain bandwidth - would reduce the pension deficit on a funding basis and allow it to consolidate SDN's revenues and cashflows.
It said it was therefore no longer planning to dispose of the business. ITV said SDN continued to trade in line with expectations, with full year revenues expected to exceed £40m ($63m).
ITV chief operating officer John Cresswell said: "Seeking to deploy SDN as asset backing to the pension scheme will help us manage our pension risk, whilst continuing to benefit from the strong cashflows that business delivers.
"We believe it is the right decision for ITV, maximising value for shareholders."
This comes just weeks after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services downgraded its long-term debt rating for ITV because of a "ballooning" pensions deficit and poor first-half performance.
The ratings agency said it had lowered its long-term corporate credit and senior unsecured debt ratings on the broadcaster to B+ from BB-. It said the outlook was "negative".
It said it based its opinion on ITV's lower-than-expected first-half 2009 performance and its ballooning pension deficit.
The ITV announcement also comes after the firm's preliminary results announced it was consulting over changes to its scheme - including capping the growth of pensionable salary - in a bid to reduce its pension scheme deficit of £538m.
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