Crown in talks with potential investors

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The Independent Online
CROWN Communications, the troubled owner of LBC, the London radio station, is expected to announce a refinancing package next week and results for the year to September, writes Tom Stevenson.

The deal is understood to involve a subscription for new shares by investors led by John Porter, son of former Tesco boss Sir Leslie Porter. Mr Porter's mother, the politician Dame Shirley Porter, could succeed Christopher Chataway as chairman later this year.

The station is under pressure to sort out its finances before March, when the Radio Authority plans to advertise its London franchise, which expires at the end of 1994. It is expected to face strong competition to keep the franchise.

David Whitaker, Crown's finance director, said negotiations with potential investors were in their final stages.

If the deal goes ahead, the investors and Crown's management would own a majority of the company's shares. Much of the remainder would be held by banks as a result of a debt- for-equity swap to reduce the company's debts of pounds 15m.

In the six months to March 1992, Crown reported losses of pounds 5.58m following a pounds 6.79m deficit in the year to September 1991. The company is still trying to get regulatory approval for the sale of its loss-making French network of radio stations, RFM. Its shares were suspended last October at 6p.