Absolute Radio owner considering a sale again

By | Published on Wednesday 19 December 2012

Absolute Radio

The owner of Absolute Radio, India-based TIML Radio, is reportedly once again in talks to sell the British radio station.

TIML Radio’s parent company, the Times Of India Group, toyed with selling the loss making music radio station last year, but took it off the market, reportedly because none of the interested bidders would commit to anything near the £20 million the current owner wanted for it. According to The Guardian, TIML is now talking to just one possible bidder, John Pearson, who previously ran the station when it was still Virgin Radio.

Pearson was part of one of the consortiums that bid last year. Then he was reportedly backed by the Virgin Group, who would have rebranded the station under the Virgin name had they successfully acquired the Absolute business and frequencies.

But this time Pearson, who has continued to work as a consultant to the Virgin Group since leaving Virgin Radio in 2004, is seemingly bidding without Richard Branson’s firm, with financial backing coming instead from Oakley Capital, the venture capital firm best known in media circles for its stake in Time Out.

Whether a deal can be struck this time round remains to be seen. Experts value the Absolute business at about half the figure TIML was looking for last year (and about a fifth of what TIML paid for it in 2008). Though with the radio company making a loss of just under £4 million last year, the Indian media group may now be ready to cut its losses.

It’s not thought that UTV Radio, which was also bidding for Absolute last year, is interested in the company any more, while Global Radio, which has expressed an interest in the past, would now be unlikely to get an Absolute purchase passed the competition regulator, given its current and ongoing acquisition of the Real and Smooth radio networks.