Ross possibly involved in Absolute Radio bid

By | Published on Monday 11 July 2011

Absolute Radio

Jonathan Ross is reportedly in talks with a consortium looking to buy Absolute Radio and relaunch it back under the Virgin Radio brand. Under the deal, Ross would take a minority stake in the new company, and present the breakfast show on the revamped station.

Current Absolute owners TIML Radio reportedly let it be known they were accepting offers for the national music station back in April. They rebranded the station Absolute when they bought the radio franchise from previous owners SMG back in 2008, because they competed with Virgin in India, and the Virgin Group therefore refused to licence them use of the name. But, reports say, the Virgin Group would be another minority shareholder in this consortium, allowing the new owners to restore the radio station’s former title.

According to Sky’s City Editor Mark Kleinman, Ross met with Richard Branson and the man leading the bid, former Virgin Radio boss John Pearson, last week to discuss possible involvement. Although no agreement has yet been reached, there is seemingly interest. Kleinman says that the majority of the £20 million needed to buy Absolute would come from private equity, with Ross and the Virgin Group both taking only minority stakes in the new firm.

It is thought UTV, owners of Talk Sport, may also bid for Absolute, mainly with a view to launching a second talk station on its national AM frequency. They’d then likely use Absolute’s London FM frequency for a music station, maybe maintaining the Absolute brand, though there were rumours they too might try to do a deal with Virgin about licensing use of that name in the radio space once again.