Business

Cool FM and Downtown owner Bauer to acquire Denis O'Brien's Communicorp Group

Microphone in a professional recording or radio studio, equipment in the blurry background
Ryan McAleer

COOL FM and Downtown owner Bauer Media is to buy Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp Group in a significant deal understood to be worth more than £85 million.

The acquisition, which is subject only to regulatory approval, will see the likes of Today FM, Newstalk, Spin 1038, 98FM and digital radio sport station Off The Ball join the German media group.

It marks Bauer’s first entry into the Republic, extending its network of radio stations to eight countries.

Based in Hamburg, Bauer’s UK portfolio includes the Absolute, Magic, Kiss, Kerrang and Hits digital radio stations.

It also owns a considerable number of magazines, including Heat, Mojo, Empire, Closer and Car.

The deal will represent the end of Irish tycoon Denis O’Brien’s 30-year involvement in the Irish media industry.

It comes just under two years after Mr O’Brien agreed to sell his stake in Independent News and Media to Belgium’s Mediahuis. Mr O’Brien reportedly lost more than €450m on his investment in the INM, which prints the Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life and Independent newspapers.

The businessman looks set for another hefty loss on his radio investments. In 2007, Communicorp paid around €200m for Today FM, 104FM and Highland Radio.

As Ireland’s largest commercial radio group, Communicorp still attracts a weekly audience of around 1.75 million.

Paul Keenan, president of Bauer Media Audio said more than 80 per cent of the Irish population still tune into the radio every week.

“Communicorp’s award-winning radio stations are reaching record listening highs, and the combination of these highly valued audiences offered alongside fast growing and innovative digital brands means they are well positioned to capitalise on the future development potential of the wider world of audio,” he said.

Communicorp chair Lucy Gaffney said the media group had transformed radio in Ireland over the past 30 years.

“Hundreds of incredibly talented and special people, both in front of and behind the mic, have made that journey possible and I want to thank them for their enormous contribution to the company,“ she added.

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