24 February 2005

Mackenzie's Wireless Group Buyout Bites the Dust

Lossmaking UK radio property The Wireless Group saw its share price sag 3.74% after it emerged that a much-hyped buyout plan by chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie had crumbled.

MacKenzie, a former editor of News Corporation's best-selling UK tabloid The Sun, is notorious for his one word front-page banner headline 'Gotcha!', with which he gloated over the sinking of Argentine battle cruiser Belgrano with the loss of 323 lives during the 1982 Falklands war.

Mackenzie holds a seven per cent stake in TWG, dwarfed by NewsCorp's 30% and the 28% holding of US cable entrepreneur John C Malone. The balance of the shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange and currently fetch around £0.90.

The deal was to have been funded by US private equity group Veronis Suhler Stevenson [WAMN: 15-Feb-05] which, for reasons unstated, suddenly jumped off the lower end of the buyout seesaw and dumped Mackenzie unceremoniously on the ground.

TWG's best known asset is the national talkSPORT radio station. The group also owns sixteen local stations across the UK. It has been doused in red ink since its IPO in May 2000 and its accounts to April 2004 show a net loss of £11 million ($20.8m; €16.03m) - an improvement on the £19m deficit the year prior.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff