Thomas Crosbie Media (TCM) owner Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) has purchased majority stakes in two Waterford radio stations — WLR FM and Beat 102-103 — in separate deals with a combined value in the region of €14m.
(Thomas Crosbie Media owns and operates breakingnews.ie, rugby.ie, golfonline.ie and motornet.ie.)
TCH will take a 75% majority stake in both radio stations in a move which is subject to approval by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland. WLR founder and managing director Des Whelan is to remain with the company and retains a 25% holding in WLR and Beat.
Already a major player in the print media sector through its ownership of the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and 16 regional newspapers, TCH has now moved into the regional radio market through these acquisitions.
TCH already has a 36% stake in RedFM in Cork and a 15% holding in Mid West radio on Mayo.
TCH managing director Anthony Dinan stressed that no changes to management or staff in both radio stations is envisaged.
"The independence and culture of both stations will be preserved under our ownership," he said.
It is understood TCH beat off strong competition to secure the two stations with rivals such as UTV, Radio Kerry, Fox Radio, Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp and Lord Kilclooney’s Alpha Newspapers Group all vying to buy the profitable award-winning stations during a protracted sale process.
Mr Dinan said TCH was delighted to acquire the majority stake in WLR: "WLR FM has consistently been among the leading independent radio stations in Ireland in terms of programming standards, audience share and business performance."
Commenting on the change of ownership Mr Whelan said that he was delighted that an Irish-owned group had decided to invest in the future of the WLR.
The outgoing chairman of Beat, Trevor Bowen of Principle management, said that shareholders of the company had been aware for some time that WLR were in negotiations to sell a majority stake in the station. He explained that because of the strong links between the two stations that the Beat board decided unanimously to accept an offer for 75% of the company.
WLR and Beat operate from a modern new €5m broadcast facility at Ardkeen in Waterford city.