SMG to float Virgin Radio

Scottish Media Group has announced plans to float national commercial station Virgin Radio as part of a move to refocus the group on its TV interests. It also revealed that it has axed plans to sell off outdoor company Primesight.

The group says that a flotation of Virgin, due later in the year, will “create a strong and focussed” radio business as the division has “consistently outperformed the market”. It follows a year of investment in the station’s output and platform expansion.

SMG announced the plans as it revealed a 50% drop in pre-tax profits to £10m for 2006. Revenue increased by 8% to £147.4m.

The sale of Primesight has been terminated as the group has failed to agree a suitable price with interested groups. It expects to restart the sale when market conditions have improved. The group is selling cinema advertising business Pearl & Dean as well. It also owns STV, Ginger Productions and SMG Productions.

The media group has faced a turbulent start to the year after failing to agree a merger with Ulster TV, owner of TalkSport, for a second time. Virgin chief executive Fru Hazlitt also left the company to join rival GCap Media amid suggestions that she had led a failed management buy-out bid. She has been replaced by programme director Paul Jackson.

Weeks later, SMG appointed Rob Woodward, a former Channel 4 commercial director, as chief executive of the group and Richard Findlay, the former head of Scottish Radio Holdings, as chairman after shareholders forced a boardroom coup.

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