Massive €50 million radio deal close to completion

Richard Findlay, the former head of media firm Scottish Radio Holdings, has moved closer to buying five Irish local radio stations with a deal expected this week.

Findlay is understood to be offering more than €50million to buy the stations - Ocean FM, which covers Sligo/Donegal, KCLR in Kilkenny and Carlow, Tipp FM in Tipperary, KFM in Kildare, and Mid West Radio in Mayo.

He has been tipped as the front-runner to buy the stations for some time and last month entered into a period of exclusivity to work out due diligence.

Mr Findlay and his son Adam, whose company New Wave Media recently bought Scottish radio station Wave102 for £1m, are thought to have set up a new investment vehicle to buy the Irish stations.

Dublin finance house Raglan Capital put together the radio deal and it is understood corporate law firm Maples and Calder, which has an office in Dublin, is now also acting for the five stations.

Raglan are also currently seeking suitors for the Mayo News newspaper in Westport — a deal that is believed to be linked with the sale of of at least one Galway newspaper.

The five stations are currently owned separately; Ocean is owned by River Media and headed by chief executive Tim Collins; MidWest's shareholders include media company Thomas Crosbie Holdings; Tipp FM is owned by the Irish Press plc, the group that published the now-defunct eponymous daily paper.

It is understood the Tipperary station's sale could return as much as €10 million, with €4million of this going to the Irish Press.

It is also believed that Mid West Radio will fetch the highest price at around €13million.

KCLR's investors include chief executive John Purcell and former and current Communicorp executives. KFM investors includes East Coast Radio and River Media's Padraig O'Dwyer.

Findlay's bid is being backed with debt from AIB and funding from the bank's private investment clients and high net-worth individuals.

Sources familiar with the deal said that the agreement with Findlay included penalty clauses of tens of thousands of euro if any of the stations pulled out of the deal.

The sale of the five stations follows several headline deals in the sector in recent months, including the record €200million paid by Denis O'Brien's Communicorp for Today FM, FM104 and Highland Radio in Donegal late last year.

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