GWR poised to take control of Classic FM

GWR, the quoted commercial radio company, is ready to take control of Classic FM, one of four national radio stations in the UK, sources close to the company said last night.

A deal that would see GWR buy a 33 per cent stake in Classic, currently owned by Time Warner, the US media giant, could be announced as soon as tomorrow. GWR already owns 17 per cent of the station.

John Spearman, the head of Classic FM, cut short his holiday, and returned to London yesterday. His position is rumoured to be in danger, as sources indicate he may step down following the buyout.

There is a possibility that GWR will also buy out minority shareholdings in Classic FM, owned by Capital Radio and Daily Mail & General Trust, both of which hold substantial stakes in GWR.

The moves are linked to growing dissatisfaction, particularly at DMGT, about Classic's ill-advised foray into Europe, notably in Sweden.

It is believed that DMGT has been behind the moves to position GWR as the controlling shareholder. The media group, which publishes the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, has recently decided to concentrate on radio as a prime acquisition target, following a relaxation of the rules governing cross-media ownership. It is also a player in local television, as owner of Channel One, the cable-exclusive "City TV" station in London.

Classic FM has been a success in the UK, and is one of four national services - the others are Virgin, Atlantic 252 and Talk Radio - to win licences from the Radio Authority. But the international expansion has proved disastrous, undercutting the contribution to earnings from the core UK service.

GWR is one of the fastest growing regional radio groups, and most recently took management control of London News Radio from Reuters, the financial information giant.

It has never been awarded a licence by the Radio Authority under the new licensing round, despite many attempts, but has been growing by acquisition, at home and abroad. Its chief executive, Ralph Bernard, is tipped to take a senior position at Classic FM. If the deal goes through, GWR will control a national licence for the first time.

Capital Radio, now thought to be a takeover target following the passage of the liberalising Broadcasting Bill, had no comment on the plans to restructure shareholdings at Classic FM. Speculation has been growing that Capital, which owns the leading commercial radio station in London, could be taken over by DMGT, which publishes London's Evening Standard newspaper.

The new broadcasting rules would allow DMGT to take over Capital, despite the fact that they share the national advertising market in Greater London.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power