Bennett Coleman to sell Absolute Radio in UK to Bauer Media for less than half of what it paid in 2008

Bauer Media UK, a division of the Bauer Media Group, is buying Absolute Radio (erstwhile Virgin Radio) from Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (BCCL), the privately held parent of The Times of India group, as per a company statement. This would mark an exit for the Indian media giant from what was seen as an expensive overseas expansion move.

Although Bauer Media did not disclose the deal value, various media reports pegged the deal value around £22 million ($33.5 million or Rs 204 crore). This would mean the firm has managed to exit the firm at about half of what it spent to buy the firm.

In mid-2008 the Indian media group had paid around £53.2 million (Rs 445 crore or $100 million back then) to acquire Virgin Radio. The firm was renamed as Absolute Radio. It has struggled to generate financial value for BCCL which has been reportedly looking to exit for over two years now.

BCCL, which has a string of media publications in India such as The Times of India, The Economic Times and Femina, also runs multi-media properties such as lifestyle channel Zoom, business channel ET Now, English movie channel Movies Now besides its own radio channels under the Radio Mirchi brand.

“Absolute Radio and its sister brands are loved by millions of UK consumers and by advertisers. This acquisition will be an opportunity to learn and share across both businesses,” said Paul Keenan, CEO, Bauer Media UK.

Bauer Media Group is one of the leading publishing groups in Europe. The Group has over 300 magazines in 15 countries, as well as online, TV and radio stations. Bauer Media joined the Bauer Media Group in January 2008, following the acquisition of Emap plc’s consumer and specialist magazines, radio, TV, online and digital businesses. Collectively, the Group employs over 6,400 people.

Bauer Media is a multi-platform UK-based media Group consisting of many companies collected around two main divisions--Magazines and Radio.

Earlier, John Pearson, a former chief executive of Virgin Radio, had pulled out of talks to buy Absolute Radio in a management buy-in deal supported by private equity firm Oakley Capital, as per Mediaweek.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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