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Global Radio sells eight stations to Communicorp

By | Published on Thursday 6 February 2014

Global Radio

Global Radio has signed a deal to sell off eight of its local stations to Communicorp, the company owned by Irish media billionaire Denis O’Brien, for a reported £35 million. This will make Communicorp the fourth largest radio operator in the UK, as part of a “massive push” to expand the business announced by O’Brien last month.

As previously reported, Global was forced to sell off the stations by the Competition Commission last year, following the company’s £70 million acquisition of the Guardian Media Group’s radio business, the Real and Smooth networks, in 2012. After criticism of the takeover from Global’s key competitors, the Commission ruled that the radio giant could only keep a minority of the additional stations it had acquired, and would have to sell off outlets in seven regions, either its recent Real Smooth acquisitions, or one of its existing operations in those markets.

The stations covered under the new deal are Smooth East Midlands, Smooth North West, Smooth North East, Capital Scotland, Capital South Wales, Real Radio North Wales, Real Radio Yorkshire and Real XS Manchester.

Communicorp’s CEO Gervaise Slowey said in a statement: “We are delighted to add these popular radio stations to the group’s stable. It’s clear that the UK advertising market is buoyant, and this move will make us the fourth largest commercial radio group in the UK from a standing start”.

The Global-owned brands currently operating on these licences will mainly remain via a franchise deal between the UK radio giant and the Irish firm, the latter using the brand names, programme formats and off-peak syndicated programming of Global’s Heart, Capital and Smooth networks. The Real stations will be rebranded Heart.

“The brand licence agreement that we have in place with Global for Heart, Capital and Smooth will allow us to combine the clout of a national brand with local presence, and we feel this model will provide the best of both worlds to our listeners and our customers”, said Slowey.

Communicorp’s purchase has been approved by the Competition Commission, though still requires regulator approval in Ireland, where the company is based.