Business Irish

Friday 19 October 2018

UTV raises over £5m to help fund e52m takeover of FM104 station

Laura Noonan

MEDIA group UTV has raised almost £5.5m from new shares issues to help finance its purchase of Dublin radio station FM104.

The Ulster group sealed the FM104 deal last week, beating off competition from four other groups to pay €52m for the station.

In a statement yesterday, the group said the deal would be financed by a mixture of bank debt and the issue of the new shares.

The €52m price tag values FM104 at almost 15 times 2006/7 earnings of €3.46m, making it one of the most expensive radio deals on record.

But UTV group finance director Paul O'Brien insisted he had paid "what we feel is a very good price" for the station.

"We feel it's a very important acquisition for us as it lifts our offering in Dublin [which already includes Q102]," he said, adding that UTV would now have an 18.8pc share of Dublin's listeners.

UTV bought the station from Denis O'Brien's Communicorp which was only allowed to complete its €200m buyout of Today FM, FM104 and Donegal's Highland Radio on the condition that it sold FM104.

Mr O'Brien has recently suggested he may be open to selling Highland; he said that his group was "unlikely" to be interested in the Donegal station as UTV's core focus is on urban markets.

UTV's FM104 deal is subject to approval from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) and the Competition Authority, as well as UTV's own board.

Mr O'Brien said he was "hopeful" of securing all the necessary agreements within "a period of nine or 10 weeks", allowing UTV to welcome FM104 into the fold in the first quarter of 2009.

UTV will also need to find a new home for FM104, as the station was originally due to move from Ballsbridge to Today FM's premises in Digges Lane.

Mr O'Brien said UTV had not yet made a decision on whether to group Q102 and FM104 in the same building. UTV already owns five radio stations in the Republic including Q102, two licences in Cork, LMFM in Louth and Live 95 in Limerick.

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