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Scottish Radio plans further expansion

Obtaining a second FM radio licence is high on the agenda for the rapidly- expanding Scottish Radio Holdings. James Gordon, chairman, said yesterday that Scottish may bid for Scot FM, or apply for the central Scotland licence, due to be advertised at the beginning of next year.

Mr Gordon, who also announced a 39 per cent surge in interim profits to pounds 4.5m before tax, also said that group may even increase its 15 per cent stake in Radio Ireland, acquired last year.

This was just one of several expansion options that the company was contemplating to bolster its presence in local radio and newspapers, he added.

He confirmed the company would be looking for further acquisitions yesterday, as he announced pre-tax profits had increased by 39 per cent to pounds 4.5m in the six months to March.

The results were well-received by investors and analysts. The shares climbed 17p to an all-time high of 414p, although the price slipped back later in the day and closed at 405p.

Mr Gordon said diversification into local press with the pounds 11.2m purchase of the Morton Newspapers group in November 1995 had worked well. The acquisition of the Montrose Review Press group in March this year is expected to contribute to the full year results.

Growth in local radio has also helped, with Downtown Radio, acquired last year, making a first-time contribution to group operating profits of pounds 445,000.

Analysts have increased their profit projections for the full year. Jamie Matheson, at the Bell Lawrie White stockbroking firm, said he had increased his pre-tax profits forecast by pounds 700,000 to pounds 8.7m.

He added: "The results vindicate completely the decision to go into local press."

Earnings per share for the half-year improved by 24 per cent to 10.8p. The interim dividend rises by 20 per cent to 3p.