Malaysian billionaire tunes in to Virgin Radio
By Mark Kleinman and Dominic White 17/02/2008 A company backed by one of Asia's richest men will battle a trio of British rivals for control of Virgin Radio after emerging as a surprise bidder for the company.
Ananda Krishnan, thought to be the third-wealthiest man in Southeast Asia, is understood to have tabled a bid for Virgin Radio through Astro All Asia Networks, Malaysia's largest media company.
The four companies have lodged offers worth between £60m and £70m for Virgin Radio, which is valued at £85m on the books of its owner, the Scottish media company SMG. Vitruvian Partners, a private equity firm, was also in the running for the station but was knocked out after bids were submitted last week. The deadline for the next round of bids is in mid-March.
It is the second time that SMG has put Virgin Radio up for sale, and bids are understood to be higher this time around. SMG had been under pressure to sell Virgin but completed a major refinancing through a £95m rights issue in December, and maintains it is not a distressed seller. The company, which paid £225m for Virgin in 2000, has been offloading assets to pay down its debts. According to US publisher Forbes, Krishnan has a self-made fortune estimated at $6bn (£3.06bn). A Harvard Business School graduate and former oil trader, Krishnan owns a slew of media and leisure holdings that includes Maxis, one of Southeast Asia's leading telecoms groups, as well as racetrack betting and lottery operations. Astro, the biggest TV service provider in Malaysia, broadcasts over 100 TV channels across Malaysia and Brunei.
In the battle for control of Virgin, Astro is up against Global Radio, the media group chaired by former ITV chief executive Charles Allen, which owns London's Heart FM radio station. Global has also made a £313m bid for GCap Media.
Absolute Radio, a small UK player backed by Irish property investors, is also in contention. Its bid is being led by Clive Dickens, once the group head of programmes at Capital Radio. UTV, which owns the Ulster ITV franchise and TalkSport radio station, is the other bidder.
Virgin, whose breakfast radio show is hosted by DJ Christian O'Connell, last month saw its share of the national radio audience grow 1 per cent. It now reaches 2.5m listeners a week, according to the radio industry measurement body Rajar. SMG, in which ITV has a 17 per cent stake, saw its shares close off ½p at 14½p on Friday, valuing the company at just under £138m. Virgin Radio declined to comment.
18 febbraio 2008
Un Paperone malese per Virgin Radio UK?
La stampa inglese sembra arricciare un po' il naso quando racconta, come qui il Telegraph, che tra i "bidder" per Virgin Radio, messa in vendita dal gruppo scozzese SMG, c'è Ananda Krishnan, un Berlusconi della Malaysia, con il quale - non trovate? - c'è anche una certa somiglianza fisica. Krishnan è al 119esimo posto della Forbes 07 contro il 51esimo di Berlusconi e il 52esimo di Del Vecchio). La sua Astro All Asia Networks possiede già un gran numero di stazioni radio in Asia, tra cui Hitz FM, Lite FM e altre in madre patria. Astro è in gara con tre società britanniche, ma chissà, forse potrebbe rilanciare la sua offerta per andare all'attacco - commercialmente parlando - della variegata comunità asiatica residente in Gran Bretagna.