Private Equity Firms Stalk UK's Largest Radio Operator

19 October 2005

Shares in GCap Media, Britain's largest radio company, leapt ten per cent on Monday following persistent rumours that London-headquartered private equity group Cinven is planning a £700 million ($1.23bn; €1.02bn) takeover bid.

Another PE predator, Permira, is also reportedly circling the broadcaster with similar intent.

GCap is a prime acquisition target, having shed £200m in market value since its formation by merger in May this year, a union that melded the UK's two dominant radio groups, Capital Radio and GWR.

But just as the happy couple were recuperating from the rigours of the honeymoon came bad news - advertising revenues for April and May had plummeted, heralding lean times ahead.

Following ongoing revenue problems during the traditionally barren summer quarter, September saw a senior sacrificial head roll - that of former Capital ceo David Mansfield, who held the same role in at Gcap.

He jumped (or was pushed) after just five months of connubial bliss, leaving Ralph Bernard to shoulder the role of ceo in addition to his duties as executive chairman.

At the same time Bernard also appeased investors by announcing a £25m cost-cutting regime - a threefold increase on the £7.5m savings promised in the merger prospectus.

Comments media analyst Paul Richards at investment bank Numis Securities: "David Mansfield leaving and the £25m cost savings may have been brought forward because of rumours that venture capitalists are looking at [Gcap]."

Richards is upbeat about Gcap's ability to beat off potential predators: "[It] has made a lot of progress over the last month in putting its house in order. And [it has] a long-standing shareholder base … who would want to see GCap fixed rather than sold on before the benefits of the merger are seen."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff