Communicorp sale clears final regulatory hurdle

Deal marks the end of businessman Denis O’Brien’s involvement in Irish media

Bauer Media Audio has agreed to buy Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp Group for over €100m. File photograph: Collins

Bauer Media Audio has agreed to buy Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp Group for over €100m. File photograph: Collins

 

The sale of Communicorp, the radio group controlled by Denis O’Brien, to UK-based Bauer Media Audio for a sum understood to be more than €100 million, has been given the green light by the Government.

The deal, which was subject to regulatory approval, will see Bauer take control of the national stations Today FM and Newstalk, as well as local music stations Spin 1038 and 98FM in Dublin and Spin Southwest in Limerick.

Digital radio sport station Off the Ball, digital audio exchange audioXI and aggregated listening platform GoLoud are also part of the company.

In a statement on Friday, Communicorp said Minister for Media Catherine Martin has confirmed the deal following an initial media merger examination.

Ms Martin deemed the deal as being not contrary to the public interest in protecting the plurality of media in the state.

The confirmation from Ms Martin completes all phases of required regulatory approval and follows approvals from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

It is anticipated that the acquisition will be completed on May 31st.

Speaking at a webinar for Trinity students after news of the deal broke in February, Mr O’Brien said he was “delighted with the offer”. He went on to say that his decision had been influenced by the changing listening habits of consumers.

“I just don’t know whether a 12-year-old today who is going to be 15 in three years’ time is going to be listening to Spin,” Mr O’Brien said.

The move follows Mr O’Brien’s sale of his 29 per cent shareholding in Independent News & Media (INM) in 2019 and marks his exit from the Irish media market.