Newspaper publisher Guardian Media Group plans to become a major player in British radio after building a substantial warchest.
The group, whose national titles include The Guardian and The Observer, has revealed it will pull £500 million ($817m; €696m) from a publishing deal to use for radio acquisitions ahead of the forthcoming relaxation of ownership rules.
GMG currently owns a number of minor radio assets, including two Jazz FM licences and three Real Radio stations. However, it has set its sights much higher, targeting London-based giant Capital Radio.
Given GMG’s limited radio holdings, a move for Capital would not unduly trouble competition authorities. But the group may face opposition from US firms such as Clear Channel Communications, also sizing up Capital as a post-deregulation prize [WAMN: 18-Nov-02].
The £500m warchest was previously earmarked to buy 52% of the Autotrader publishing business from BC Partners. A further £500m could be available if GMG sells its existing 48%.
Talks with BC have consequently been called off – though some cynical City observers have suggested the radio announcement may be little more than a ruse to drive down the price.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff