Lloyd-Webber tunes into radio

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Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer and music impresario, yesterday spent about pounds 2m of his personal fortune on a 25 per cent stake in a radio company, Mentorn Broadcasting.

A spokesman for Lord Lloyd-Webber would not confirm the amount invested, but said he was "delighted" to be involved in radio. He will have a seat on the board of Mentorn Broadcasting. He added: "Andrew's always had an interest in broadcast media, alongside his other interests."

Lord Lloyd-Webber (pictured), who set up the Really Useful Group to buy theatres and stage his shows, made a television programme with Tom Gutteridge, chairman and chief executive of Mentorn Group, in 1983. The pair have been friends for years.

Mentorn Group controls the United Kingdom's biggest privately-owned production outfit, Mentorn Barraclough Carey, and is now focusing on building up a collection of radio assets.

Last month, its broadcasting division spent pounds 2.5m acquiring a quarter of Orchard Media, owner of regional radio stations such as Orchard FM, Gemini FM and Lantern FM. It is also the largest shareholder in a consortium bidding for a regional radio licence in the North-west of England.

Mr Gutteridge said yesterday: "We invited Andrew to become an investor as he's always had a great interest in radio."

Mentorn Group is tipped to float on the London Stock Exchange within a year or two. Mr Gutteridge would not comment yesterday on plans for a flotation.

-- Cathy Newman