Scottish Radio Holdings has taken control of Radio Ireland – owner of Today FM, the Republic’s only independent commercial radio station – by buying for £36.4 million the 76% stake it did not already own.

SRH took a 15% holding when the Irish group was established in 1997, subsequently strengthening its hand to 24%. Its offer is payable in cash, but could be converted to SRH shares if Radio Ireland investors choose to do so.

Radio Ireland entered the black in February 2001, and has since, said SRH, “continued to grow in terms of audience, advertising revenue and operating profitability.” It attracts 891,000 listeners a week.

The news of the purchase came as SRH posted a 13% fall in underlying profits for the year to the end of September, on an 11% rise in turnover to £79.8m. “Although there has been a downturn for most of 2001 in levels of advertising revenue generally, SRH’s group revenues have proven to be robust,” said chief executive Richard Findlay.

Such robustness will be boosted by the purchase of Today FM, where, said SRH, “advertising revenues for the seven months to September 2001 are up by 9% on the corresponding revenues for the previous year, reflecting a greater degree of advertising buoyancy in Ireland.”

News source: Financial Times