THE Connacht Tribune newspaper has bought out its local radio station, Galway Bay FM in a deal that values the broadcaster at just over ?20m.
The Galway city-based newspaper group swooped on the profitable station this week, edging out long-time suitors, UTV.
It is understood that UTV had made a number of approaches to acquire Galway Bay FM, most recently tabling an offer in the region of ?19m.
A lesser bid, thought to be in the region of ?13m, was made by Scottish Radio Holdings for the station last year.
The Connacht Tribune is already a 27pc shareholder in Western Community Broadcasting Services Ltd, the company which runs Galway Bay FM. The newspaper had been an investor in the station since its inception. Other stakeholders include Oranmore-based businessman Gerry Rabbitt, believed to hold in excess of 30pc; the GAA and Catholic dioceses of Galway and Tuam are minority shareholders. Galway Bay FM recorded a profit of ?690,000 at the end of 2004, paying a dividend of ?203,000 to shareholders.
Pre-tax operating profit as a percentage of overall turnover increased from 20-30pc between 2002 and 2004, with further growth predicted.
In a statement yesterday the newspaper confirmed that it had finalised an agreement to increase its shareholding in the radio station to 100pc.
"While no figure was mentioned, it is thought that the deal will cost the newspaper in the region of ?14m. Said the statement: "The Connacht Tribune is delighted to build stronger links with one of the most successful local radio stations in the country with in excess of 100,000 listeners every day."