UK's Largest Radio Group Blames £48m Loss on Merger

26 May 2006

Claiming it had "closed a chapter" on one of the most turbulent UK media mergers of the past decade, GCap Media this week reported a pre-tax loss of £47.9 million ($89.47m; €70.19m).

The merger in May 2005 of Britain's two largest radio companies - Capital Radio Group and GWR Group - was hit a by a double-whammy: the start of a national advertising downturn and a bout of executive infighting that saw ceo David Mansfield ousted, ceding control to executive chairman Ralph Bernard.

According to the latter, the business is on the road to recovery after absorbing merger-related financial charges (that presumably include compensation to Mansfield) and a non-cash amortisation of £42.8m) - all of which doused GCap deeply in red ink.

Says Bernard: "Today represents a closing of that chapter. This is a business that is stable, that does not have anything like the turnover of staff that it had, that is on the front foot and has a clear strategy that is accepted by investors."

However, even after excluding one-off charges and allocating merger costs to the year-earlier period, the numbers show a 40% fall in pre-tax profits to £22.2m, on revenues of £220.2m, down 12.7% on the same period last year.

Bernard denies the merger has been a failure, while admitting that senior management had not allowed for the cultural chasm that divided the respective workforces of GWR, and Capital Radio. "We underestimated the cultural differences between the two businesses," he said.

As if in extenuation, Bernard added: "I have yet to find a perfect merger between two businesses that have been scrapping for share in a small pool."

Analysts appear to agree that the worst is over for the troubled group. "The patient is slowly getting better and the early signs are good," opined Bridgewell Securities analyst Patrick Yau.

While at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Richard Menzies-Gow commented that although GCap is unlikely to reap the benefits of its strategic changes for "some time yet", the business appeared to be "off the bottom".

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff