Orion Media has apparently received interest from other radio groups, according to a report in the Telegraph.
The article says Bauer, Wireless Group and Global are interested the group with a price tag of £40m-£50m mentioned. These kind of speculative articles usually act as a message to the industry to let everyone know it’s worth getting in touch to talk.
Orion Media was created in 2009 from the enforced sale of several radio stations operated by Global Radio. Adrian Serle, previously the group’s Commercial Director was appointed to the role of CEO in January 2015. Phil Riley, the former CEO and founder of the group stepped down at this time to become a non-exec Director on the Board.
Adrian told RadioToday: “We are a market leading, fast growing business in the second biggest conurbation in the UK, so I understand why we may be connected to such stories, but we do not comment on media speculation.”
Orion has rebranded all the stations it purchased, including Heart East Midlands which it operated under a franchise agreement from Global.
But if Orion Media was for sale, who would buy it?
Bauer already sells national airtime for the Orion Media stations, and there’s only one ‘station’ (a frequency used for the relay of Absolute Radio – previously Kerrang! 105.2) in the Orion Media patch already owned by Bauer.
Bauer would be an ideal match as all the local FM stations could be part of the City 1 Network whilst the AM stations would be City 2 stations. Bauer could also entertain the idea of changing Free Radio stations back to their heritage names to create BRMB 1, BRMB 2, BRMB 3 etc. Regional station Gem 106 could even morph into Magic.
As with Bauer, there is very little overlap with current stations, meaning minimum issues for the competition commission. Signal 107 shares the same area as the former Beacon station, but with Global and Bauer operating regional stations covering the area, this could be approved.
Wireless Group operates national brands and a bunch of local stations similar to Orion. Any purchase by Wireless Group would probably see the stations continue to operate as they are but with the addition of Wireless Group’s networked programmes off-peak.
Global had to sell these stations to continue operating in 2009 and the rules surrounding ownership aren’t much different today so we suspect Global is not in the running to buy them back.
The report also suggests RTL and NRJ may be interested in these stations but they were probably thrown in the mix to add a bit of spice. Other UK operators could be interested – including Celador, Communicorp, UKRD, Oxis and Media Sound Holdings.
Orion is backed by Lloyds Development Capital, and last year applied unsuccessfully for the second commercial national DAB multiplex.
We’ll keep you informed of further developments on this story here on RadioToday.