Talk Radio chiefs plan 50m buyout

Senior managers at Talk Radio are mounting a 40m to 50m bid to buy the national commercial station from its European owners, CLT-Ufa.

The management buyout team will be headed by Talk Radio managing director Paul Robinson. He will be joined by commercial director Stan Park, programme director John Simons, marketing director Jane O’Hara and sales director Tim Bleakley.

CLT has called for bids for its 62 per cent stake in Talk to be lodged this week. There could be as many as half a dozen, including one involving Kelvin MacKenzie, the Mirror Group deputy chief executive who resigned this week. He says he will head the bid by MVI, which owns 35 per cent of the station.

Robinson points to the station’s performance since he joined in August 1996. Talk has nearly trebled its regular listeners, taking its weekly audience to about 2.3 million, with revenues of about 10m a year.

He says the management team is poised to sign a finance deal for the bid with unnamed backers. “We have got people who are close to securing backing,” he says. “We’re bidding on a simple basis – we have built revenues tenfold and will make a modest operating profit in June for the first time,” he adds.

On the rival bid headed by MacKenzie, Robinson comments: “He is a great journalist, but he has never run a radio station and I don’t think he has the skills.”

CLT-Ufa, which is controlled by German media company Bertelsmann, has decided to sell its stake in the station and its other UK radio interests in RTL, Country and Atlantic 252, to concentrate on the German launch of digital TV.

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