Price wrangles hilk up Talk Radio takeover bid

Kelvin MacKenzie’s expected takeover of Talk Radio has hit a series of delays, as his consortium and the station’s current owners, CLT-Ufa, haggle over price.

MacKenzie, a former Sun editor and Mirror Group deputy chief executive, is believed to have upped his bid, from 25m to 27m.

However, CLT had priced the station at 38m.

So far four deadline dates for completion of the deal, stretching back from mid-July to the end of August, have been missed.

MacKenzie’s consortium, CLT, and its merchant bank Lehman Brothers meet again today (Wednesday) to try and thrash out a price.

One former CLT employee says: “CLT’s asking price is too high. But they will settle for about 29m.”

A spokesman for MacKenzie’s consortium says that it hopes to reach an agreement “as soon as possible”.

Sources close to MacKenzie deny that it has raised its offer. They say that the continued talks are over how much of the price should be paid up-front and how much will be deferred.

Another source says: “CLT is in a tough position. They are desperate to get shot of Talk, but it can’t be seen to dip too far below its original asking price.”

A management buyout (mbo) lead by Talk Radio managing director Paul Robinson, pulled out of the running in July when it refused to raise its 20m bid.

One source close to the MacKenzie bid says: “Since the mbo refused to raise its bid it is now a buyers’ market.”

MacKenzie’s consortium is made up of News International and media company MVI, which already owns a 35 per cent stake in Talk Radio.

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