O’Brien group in UK radio deal

Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp media group is set to become the fourth largest commercial radio owner in the UK after agreeing the acquisition of eight regional stations.

O’Brien group in UK radio deal

These include leading player Global Radio, in a deal estimated to be worth £35m (€42m).

Global owns the London station Capital FM and was last year instructed by Britain’s Competition Commission to sell seven stations it inherited from its 2012 takeover of rival group, GMG Radio.

These stations — six regional variations of the Smooth Radio and Real Radio brands and Capital’s services in Scotland and southern Wales — are being taken over by Communicorp.

The Dublin-headquartered group owns Newstalk, Today FM and Spin here, as well as stations in Latvia, Bulgaria, and Jordan.

Communicorp plans to relaunch the Smooth stations and rebrand the Real stations under the Heart franchise.

The value of the entire deal has not been officially disclosed.

It is reliant on regulatory approval both in Britain and Ireland, and no timeframe has been given as to its potential completion date.

Britain’s Competition Commission has, however, approved Communicorp as “a suitable owner” of the eight stations.

Communicorp chief executive Gervaise Slowey said yesterday that the group had been looking at the UK market “for some time now”.

Chairwoman Lucy Gaffney said the deal will bring the group’s total portfolio of radio stations to 27 and reinforce its position as an international market leader in the commercial radio industry.

“Each of these stations has a strong and loyal following and this move will make Communicorp the fourth largest commercial radio group in the UK,” Ms Slowey said.

“The brand licence agreement that we have in place with Global for Heart, Capital, and Smooth will allow us to combine the strength of a national brand with a local presence.

“We feel that this will provide the best customer offerings to each of the stations’ audiences.”

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