Thursday 26 April 2018

UTV Media sells Liverpool radio station for €13.6m

PIC SHOWS: Pictured at the launch of UTV Ireland at the channel's headquarters and HD studios in Dublin's Docklands, on New Year's Day, were staff and presenters of the channel.

Paul O'Donoghue

UTV Media, the owner of UTV Ireland, has agreed to sell Juice FM, UTV's radio station in Liverpool, to Global Radio Holdings for £10m (€13.6m).

The company said the proceeds from the sale will be used to pay down existing group debt. The deal follows the firm's decision earlier in the year to look at a sale of its local radio stations in England.

Analysts expect the sale of Juice FM will help reduce the impact of losses that are likely to be incurred by the company after the establishment of UTV Ireland.

UTV said last month that UTV Ireland will rack up more losses than expected this year. The firm said it expects losses at the fledgling TV station to amount to £8.5m this year, almost triple original estimates.

UTV said that the review of its remaining 12 stations in England is currently continuing, adding that "further announcements will be made in due course, as appropriate".

The sale to Global Radio, one of the UK's largest commercial radio groups, is subject to approval from competition authorities in the UK. Last year Juice FM reported revenues of £2.2m and profit before tax of £408,000. At the end of last year, Juice FM had gross assets of £603,000.

UTV Media's share price was up 4pc in early trading in London yesterday to 165p. Gavin Kelleher, an analyst with Goodbody Stockbrokers, said that the sale is a "good move for the group".

He said that the proceeds of the sale will help UTV reduce its net debt.

"This creates somewhat of a buffer in a year which is impacted by the high level of investment in UTV Ireland," Mr Kelleher added.

Irish Independent

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