A bid led by Birmingham radio industry veteran Mike Owen to buy Global Radio’s Midland stations is still in the frame, despite speculation the BRMB owner had entered exclusive talks with rival bidder Bauer.
A source close to the consortium led by Mr Owen, who spent 18 years working at BRMB, has denied reports that Global is at an exclusivity stage with Bauer, saying Mr Owen’s group had received no message from Global to that effect.
Earlier this week it was reported that Kiss and Magic parent Bauer had offered up to £40?million for the five radio stations – BRMB, Beacon, Wyvern, Mercia in the West Midlands and Heart 106 in the East Midlands. The stations were put up for sale after Global’s £375?million acquisition of GCap last March raised fears competition would be diluted in the region.
Despite a deal being expected by the end of last year, the negotiations process, which is believed to have included at least five bids, has dragged on for eight months.
Mr Owen, a former BRMB programme controller and operations director, announced his intention to bid for the stations last August with a consortium which included significant players from the region’s radio industry.
At the heart of his bid is a promise to “bring radio back to the region” instead of relying on networked radio programmes made outside the West Midlands.
The source said Mr Owen’s consortium now had a new partner on board and was reconsidering its bid price but was still committed to the deal.
“However, we are looking very hard at the Ofcom submission Radio in Digital Britain which will affect all bids and the future of this group of stations,” the source said.
Ofcom’s Radio in Digital Britain submission outlines recommendations to soften the obligations on local radio stations in terms of local programming and the music formats they are required to stick to.
Mr Owen has won a number of major awards including a Pulitzer award for outstanding services to publishing, two Sony awards and a Prix Italia nomination. He now runs media relations and radio consultancy firm Mike Owen Media, based in Lichfield.
Former Chrysalis Radio chief executive Phil Riley was also among the big names believed to be leading consortia bidding for the stations.
An international private equity group was also understood to be in the running.
Global Radio offered to sell the five Midland radio stations last year to prevent the GCap acquisition deal being referred to the Competition Commission.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said the move would, in principle, resolve its concerns by restoring competition to pre-merger levels in the Midlands.
Nobody at Global was available to comment on the progress of the sale.