Global Radio no longer interested in buying Absolute

Global Radio, the owner of Classic FM and the Heart network, has pulled out of the Absolute Radio sales review process, leaving UTV Media and Virgin Radio International among the remaining bidders.

Global Radio: has withdrawn from Absolute Radio sales review process
Global Radio: has withdrawn from Absolute Radio sales review process

It is understood Global Radio pulled out of the process last Friday (27 May), after investment bank Jefferies returned to Global Radio and asked for the group to up its bid for the assets.

An industry source said: "On Friday, there was a push for money, Global Radio said it was not going to overpay and withdrew from the process. They were trying to push for more than the £20m or so it has been valued at."

Absolute Radio declined to comment.

Jefferies was appointed in April by parent group Bennett Coleman, owner of The Times of India, to review its UK business, a subsidiary named TIML Radio, whose only asset is Absolute Radio.

A source close to the process said: "As far as we know, the process is ongoing. The bidders are being told that the owners are taking things slowly, that is their way of doing business."

Last month Campaign revealed Global Radio and TalkSport-owner UTV Media were involved in the review of the radio station and music and entertainment company, and had held recent discussions with Jefferies.

The Virgin Radio bid is believed to be led by John Pearson, chief representative for Western Europe, group advertising director of Virgin Radio International and chief executive of Virgin Radio 2005.

UTV Media, which owns a number of local stations alongside TalkSport, is still involved in the process, although it is understood that the group is only interested in acquisitions if the price is right.

It is also understood that a further unknown bid was turned down after the 14 April deadline for initial expressions of interest.

It is believed that Bauer Media, owner of the Kiss and Magic brands, and former Chrysalis chief Phil Riley’s Orion Media, which bought the West Midlands assets from Global Radio in 2009, have not been involved in the process.

TIML Radio bought Virgin Radio, as it was then known, from the Scotland-based STV for £53.2m in June 2008, and renamed the station Absolute Radio in September 2008.

According to the last results filed at Companies House TIML Radio recorded pre-tax losses of £4.3m in 2009. The 2009 results also wrote down the value of the business by £7.9m.

UTV Media, Global Radio and Virgin Radio International declined to comment.

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