Chiltern seeks ruling on stake

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THE board of Chiltern Radio has asked the Radio Authority and the Takeover Panel for an urgent ruling on the legitimacy of a 29.99 per cent stake in the company held by Daily Mail & General Trust and its allies.

Ownership rules restrict national newspaper owners to a 20 per cent stake in local radio groups. But DMGT, which opposes a 242p-a-share recommended bid for Chiltern by CLT, the Luxembourg media group, has taken its 18.5 per cent holding to 29.99 per cent in alliance with European Media Associates.

DMGT has a 20 per cent stake in EMA. The rest is held by two Californians, Arthur Price and Patricia Ahmann, and two Englishmen, Christopher Turner and Peter Clark.

Chiltern's board said the CLT offer was the only offer on the table for the whole of the company. Discussions with DMGT 'give no comfort to the board' that DMGT would be prepared to make a public offer for Chiltern, it said.

It said if the CLT offer lapsed, Chiltern would in effect be controlled by DMGT and EMA, Capital Radio, its second-biggest shareholder with 20 per cent, which is also reportedly opposed to the bid, and GWR, the radio group in which Capital and DMGT each hold 17 per cent. GWR recently bought 2.25 per cent of Chiltern at 300p.

The future of the company would be in the hands of three companies with significant interests in many other competing radio stations, it said.

CLT said that at yesterday's first closing date for the offer, it had received acceptances in respect of 25.62 per cent of Chiltern. It extended the offer until 22 July.