Talk Radio team bids against three for control

The senior management team at Talk Radio, led by the station’s managing director, Paul Robinson, has joined the growing list of contenders bidding for the national station, controlled by the Luxembourg-based CLT-Ufa.

The senior management team at Talk Radio, led by the station’s

managing director, Paul Robinson, has joined the growing list of

contenders bidding for the national station, controlled by the

Luxembourg-based CLT-Ufa.



The five-member management team is near to closing a financial deal,

worth up to pounds 50 million, although Robinson would not reveal his

backers.



Other members of the buyout team include the commercial director, Stan

Park, sales director, Tim Bleakley, programme director, John Simons and

marketing director, Jane O’Hara.



The management team is bidding against three other contenders, including

a consortium headed by Mirror Group’s former deputy chief executive,

Kelvin MacKenzie, who resigned on Monday. The ex-Sun editor is leading a

bid backed by the existing shareholder, the venture capitalist, MVI

(which has a 24 per cent stake in the station), and News International,

which will have a 20 per cent stake in the consortium.



Commenting on the MacKenzie bid, Robinson said: ’He has a good track

record with newspapers but no radio experience.’



In spite of Robinson’s attempts to thwart MacKenzie’s bid, it is

understood his management buyout team is not ruling out working with

MacKenzie if his bid proves successful.



Other contenders bidding for the station - which CLT-Ufa put on sale in

March - include the US media group, Jacor Communications, and London

News Radio, which is jointly owned by ITN, GWR Group, DMG Radio and

Reuters.



The deadline for second-round bids is next Monday, according to Lehman

Brothers, the US investment bank handling the sale.



Although Talk Radio’s high pounds 3.5 million annual licence fee has

kept the station in the red since its launch, Robinson said the station

this year had reached record audience figures and was set to make a

small operating profit for the first time this month.



Along with its 63.2 per cent stake in Talk, CLT-Ufa - which is

controlled by the German media company, Bertelsmann - is selling 80 per

cent of Atlantic 252, a long-wave radio station, and RTL Country, a

country music station.



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