Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Radio Stations in [Pounds Sterling]726m Merger to Take on BBC

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Radio Stations in [Pounds Sterling]726m Merger to Take on BBC

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK GOODWAY

CAPITAL RADIO and GWR confirmed their [pounds sterling]726 million "merger of equals" today, firing the starter gun for the biggest shake-up in the British radio industry for decades.

They immediately targeted the BBC's share of radio audience, pledged to increase their share of the display advertising market and said more non-traditional revenues could be earned from listeners.

With the blessing of major shareholder Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), the owners of Classic FM and Capital FM said they expected to make savings of [pounds sterling]7.5 million a year through their combination.

Ralph Bernard, chairman of GWR, will be chairman of the new company, while David Mansfield, 11 years at Capital, will retain the title of chief executive. Wendy Pallot from GWR will become finance director.

Some analysts are worried whether strong characters like Bernard and Mansfield can work successfully together. Others cite the ousting of Michael Green from the planned role of chairman of ITV plc as a dangerous precedent for the merger.

Bernard said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to create UK commercial radio's champion of the digital age.

The enlarged group will be in a strong position to drive the growth of commercial radio's share of listening and total advertising by providing enhanced services to listeners and greater opportunities for advertisers."

Mansfield added: "Capital and GWR share common strategies and values, and have complementary brands and geographic transmission areas in both the analogue and digital spectrum. …

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