Denis O'Brien's Communicorp is the successful bidder for the Irish radio stations -Today FM, FM104 and Highland Radio.
O'Brien's firm signed purchase contracts with the UK company Emap on Saturday, agreeing to buy the radio stations for close to €200m in Ireland's biggest ever radio deal.
The deal between Communicorp and Emap will have to be approved by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI).
Communicorp already owns Irish radio networks, including Newstalk106, Dublin's 98fm, Dublin's Spin fm and Spin South West.
Today FM is a national network and the footprint of Newstalk106 covers most of the country.
Today FM, FM 104 and Highland Radio are expected to post EBITDA -earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation - of €14.6 million in the year to March 2008.
Revenue is expected to be €34.5 million. So the price of €200 million, represents a multiple of 13.8.
Communicorp Group Ltd was formed in 1989. The Group’s radio operations launched in Ireland in the same year and followed with stations in the Czech Republic in 1992. Based in Dublin, Ireland, Communicorp has grown and become a major player in the Irish media and telecommunications market. In 2004, the Group acquired the Metromedia radio group, making Communicorp one of the largest radio operators in Central and Eastern Europe with a presence in six countries.
In early 2006, the Group expanded its radio holdings with entry into its seventh market - Ukraine. With over 20 million listeners per week, the Groups’ radio stations cover many formats from Hot AC to Chart/Dance, from News to Country. Unique among pan-European radio groups, Communicorp is a pioneer in the sphere of local-language music radio in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Ukraine, as we continue to explore and create new possibilities for the medium of radio.
Welcoming the conclusion of the purchase process, Lucy Gaffney, Chairman of Communicorp Group Ltd. said, “subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities, this deal is a very significant development for Irish commercial radio. Communicorp has for many years demonstrated its commitment to investing in independent commercial radio in Ireland and to the goal of quality broadcasting to all segments of the market. This agreement to purchase the three Emap owned stations- Highland Radio in Donegal, FM104 in Dublin and the flagship national broadcaster Today FM, offers all three stations the security of a committed investor determined to develop commercial radio over the long term and of course, brings these great radio stations back into Irish ownership.”
For this purchase to be completed, the BCI will need to be satisfied that it complies with all of the Commission’s requirements and Communicorp says that it looks forward to early discussions with the Executive and Board of the BCI.
Lucy Gaffney added, “we look forward to progressing the purchase process and particularly to working with Willie O’Reilly and his outstanding teams of management, broadcasters and production staff in Highland Radio, FM104 and Today FM”.
Lucy Gaffney congratulated the negotiating teams and their advisers on both sides and particularly thanked Chief Executive Paddy Halpenny who led the negotiations for Communicorp advised by Warner Mandell of N.M Rothschild & Sons, London.