• London hedge fund manager ups short bet on U.K. broadcaster
  • Says Archie Norman has been "very beneficial" for ITV

Crispin Odey’s hedge fund raised its bet against ITV Plc ahead of non-executive chairman Archie Norman’s departure in May after six years in the role.

London-based Odey Asset Management, which manages $11 billion, now has a short bet worth 0.6 percent of ITV’s outstanding shares. Shares in the broadcaster have fallen 13 percent this year. A spokesman for the broadcaster, which announced in February that Norman will step down, declined to comment on Odey’s increased short interest which was disclosed March 23.

"We think that Archie is very, very good and his influence has been very beneficial for ITV," Odey, 57, said in an e-mail. "His timing may be perfect," he said, without elaborating.

Odey’s main fund lost 22 percent during the first 14 days of March and was on course to record one of its worst monthly performances, two people with knowledge of the matter said last week. The firm is the only hedge fund with a disclosed short bet against ITV.

The broadcaster has appointed Peter Bazalgette, who helped popularize the reality TV show "Big Brother," to succeed Norman. ITV’s shares have risen 1.6 percent since Odey disclosed it was shorting the broadcaster on Feb. 8.

Hedge funds short shares by borrowing stock and selling it on the market with the aim of buying shares back at a lower price and pocketing the difference. Odey was founded in 1991 and is one of Europe’s biggest hedge fund managers.

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