DMGT intervenes in radio merger talks

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The Independent Online

Lord Rothermere, the chairman of Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), wants non-executives to make the senior appointments at the soon-to-be-merged Capital Radio and GWR group, where the newspaper publisher will be one of the biggest single shareholders with 15 per cent.

DMGT is broadly supportive of the merger that will create a £700m commercial radio business. However, it is keen to make sure the deal is done in such a way as to protect its commercial interests. Lord Rothermere also wants DMGT to retain a seat on the enlarged group's board.

DMGT wants senior management positions at the new business to be approved by the board's nominations committee, made up of non-executive directors.

Both radio companies have young finance directors - Peter Harris, 41, at Capital and Wendy Pallot, 39, at GWR. The operations director at Capital is 48-year-old Paul Davies while his opposite number at GWR is Steve Orchard, 46. The commercial director at Capital is Linda Smith, 41, while GWR has Roger Lewis as managing director and programme controller of Classic FM, its national radio station.

How these teams will be combined while avoiding duplication of roles will be a crucial element of the merger's success and one that DMGT wants to make sure the new group's non-executives are involved with.

Defining the roles of senior executives at Capital and GWR has been a sticking point in the initial merger discussions. Capital's chief executive is David Mansfield while GWR is run by Ralph Bernard, its executive chairman. The companies confirmed merger talks last Monday following reports an agreement had been reached on the jobs of chairman and chief executive. Mr Mansfield is expected to be chief executive of the new company while Mr Bernard will be chairman.