Capital and GWR in UK Radio Merger Talks?

27 January 2004

Two of Britain's largest commercial radio groups, Capital Radio and GWR, are said to be in talks about an £840 million ($1.5 billion; €1.2bn) merger.

Reports at the weekend claimed that Capital's chief executive David Mansfield and GWR chairman Ralph Bernard have discussed a deal on several occasions. Although the two parties have so far agreed nothing, unnamed insiders suggest a deal could be reached within six months.

However, GWR played down the rumours on Monday. "In response to press speculation over the weekend with regard to formal discussions between GWR and Capital Radio, GWR Group plc states that it is not in discussions with Capital Radio," it insisted.

GWR is parent of national network Classic FM, London News Radio and smaller stations around the country; Capital's assets include the eponymous London station, its alternative-music sibling Xfm and the Century network. It is thought a deal between the two would encounter few regulatory obstacles.

But in the wake of the recent deregulation of the radio market, neither radio group is short of options. Newspaper giant Daily Mail & General Trust, already a minority shareholder in GWR, is reportedly considering taking full control, while Capital's suitors are said to include Guardian Media Group and Emap.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff