UTV consider sale of UK stations as shares jumps

Shares in UTV Media Plc. jumped by 8.7% in late trading in London as the company revealed that it may sell some or all of its 13 independent local radio stations in England and Wales.

The listed company, which also owns eight radio stations in the Republic, including Dublin’s Q102 and FM104, issued a statement to the stock exchange which said it was “assessing its options” for the British stations adding that this “may or may not lead to the disposal of some or all of these stations”.

However, they added that any potential sale would not include TalkSport, its national sports-focused radio offering in Britain, or any of its Irish stations.

Media speculation puts the value of any possible sale at more than £20m sterling (€25.6m), with potential bidders expected to include Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp, who entered the British radio market last year buying 8 stations from Global Radio, as well as the original group behind Global Radio, Bauer Media.

The British assets of UTV that may be put up for sale may be an attractive prospect due to the stations’ 1.2 million weekly listeners and their combined recent growth of market share by 5 per cent and revenues by 3 per cent. These stations include Yorkshire broadcasters Pulse 1 and Pulse 2, Swansea Sound in Wales and Peak FM in Derbyshire.

Revenues in UTVs British radio division for the first half of 2014 grew by 20% to £28.5 million, while operating profits more than doubled to more than £6 million. Much of this growth would have been driven by TalkSport, however, which the company is adamant it won’t be offloading.

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