GWR Wards Off Merger Rumours with Plan to Refocus on UK

28 May 2002

GWR, the UK-based radio group whose flagship asset is Classic FM, hit back at mounting speculation over the weekend that it is in merger negotiations with Capital Radio.

Ralph Bernard, GWR’s chairman, on Monday revealed that the group is to sell its stations in Australia, Finland, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria – a move expected to raise a warchest of around £70m ($102.05m; €110.52m) .

This, Bernard implied, would enable GWR to exploit indigenous growth opportunities opened up by the Communications Bill, current in passage through Parliament. “We want to improve our balance sheet in order to be a strong player in the changes that are going to take place in radio,” he said.

The proceeds from the disposals would be used to reduce net debt of about £164m.

His words fell pleasantly upon the ears of the entrail-rakers who had feared that GWR was contemplating a rights issue. At 08.45 BST this morning GWR shares stood at £2.775 – one per cent up on Monday’s closing price.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff