PROFESSIONAL JACK-THE-LAD and amateur-standard broadcaster Chris Evans is to acquire Virgin Radio and merge it with his production company Ginger Group after negotiations lasting less than four weeks. Evans will hold a controlling 55% of a new combined company - Ginger Media Group - while Richard Branson and his family trusts and venture capitalist Apax Partners [the brains and the cash behind the deal] each have 20%. The residual 5% will form part of a munificent incentive package for senior managers of the new company. Branson claims he reneged on his agreed £87.5m deal with Capital Radio because Evans’ bid appealed to 'the maverick in me' (despite being £2.5m below Capital’s offer); he also viewed him as 'a more sympathetic partner'. Capital is said to be chewing the carpet, blaming the MMC’s long-winded investigation for allowing Ginger to get a foot in Virgin’s door. [Cash down and cash quickly would obviously appeal to Branson’s 'maverick' tendency, as would Evans’ 'sympathetic' management style - likely to be more understanding of The Grin’s creative business practices than would the publicly quoted Capital.]

Evans, who had clearly been on the bevvies again, later described Capital as 'a bleating, blowing, asthmatic dog' for its failure to acquire Virgin. The flatulent, braggart tomcat added that he 'might consider a takeover or merger bid for Capital if the government cleared it'.