Global snaps up Smooth Radio owner in £70m deal

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The Independent Online

Global Radio, the group behind Capital Radio, Classic FM and Heart, yesterday expanded its empire, as it paid an estimated £70m for GMG Radio, the owner of the Real and Smooth stations, whose DJs include Emma B and Simon Bates.

Rival media groups such as UTV Media, the owner of TalkSport, are set to oppose the takeover, which cements Global's position as the biggest commercial radio group in Britain.

But founder Ashley Tabor, the son of the bookmaking mogul Michael Tabor, is hopeful of getting regulatory approval as GMG Radio has around 4.5 per cent of the total listening market.

Guardian Media Group, the owner of GMG Radio, described the broadcasting business as "non-core" and said that it wanted to focus on its newspaper operation.

The original sale price was mooted to be £50m but late bidding is thought to have driven up the cost to £70m.

Global signalled it plans to make sweeping changes as Stuart Taylor, the chief executive of GMG Radio, leaves with immediate effect and is likely to receive a significant pay-off. He earned £471,000 last year.

Mr Tabor said: "We believe that this is a very strong business with brands and assets that are highly complementary to those of Global Radio."

Smooth Radio, formerly known as Jazz FM, is a national station while Real Radio is made up of five regional stations based in Scotland, the North-east, Yorkshire, the North-west and Wales.

GMG is likely to take a major write-down because GMG Radio was valued at around £119m.

Andrew Miller, the chief executive of Guardian Media Group, said it made sense to get the "best value" out of GMG Radio by selling, adding that it should "flourish as part of Global Radio".

Smooth Radio has become something of a retirement home for ageing DJs such as Mark Goodier, Simon Bates and David Jensen, all former stars of Radio 1.