Former UTV Media group bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for £220m
RUPERT Murdoch's News Corp is to buy Belfast media group Wireless Group - formerly known as UTV Media - for £220 million.
The takeover will see News Corp take ownership of a string of radio stations including U105 and TalkSport.
News Corp, which owns The Sun and The Times newspapers, said the Wireless Group made an "excellent strategic fit" and would strengthen its digital business.
UTV Media was renamed after its television assets - and the UTV brand - was sold to ITV.
News Corp's cash offer will see Wireless shareholders receive 315p per share, while named shareholders from May 20 this year will pocket a special dividend of 6.15p and a final dividend of 7.6p.
Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News UK, said the deal would allow News Corp to build on its "growing digital success story" and "bring some of the best journalistic and broadcasting talent into one group".
"This acquisition will allow us to increase engagement for both businesses through the cross-promotion of our brands and the use of our respective talent," she said.
"We also look forward to collaborating in the expansion of the Wireless Group's digital audio and international assets, which offer new opportunities for our businesses in the UK and globally."
Wireless owns Virgin Radio UK, TalkRadio and TalkSport radio, which has the radio and digital broadcasting rights to the Premier League and the FA Cup,
News Corp said the takeover, which still needs to win regulatory approval and the backing of Wireless shareholders, represents a premium of 70.3 per cent of Wireless's closing share price of 185p on Wednesday.
Richard Huntingford, executive chairman of Wireless, said: "This is an excellent outcome for all Wireless stakeholders.
"Shareholders receive an immediate and certain cash value for their shares, which not only represents a very significant premium to the current share price, but also fully recognises the long-term prospects and growth potential of Wireless.
"News Corp's proven track record of investing in content that drives audiences will significantly benefit Wireless's listeners and advertisers. And the excellent strategic fit and complementariness of the Wireless business to News Corp's operations will provide great opportunities for Wireless's management, employees and talent."