Rupert Murdoch's News Corp agrees all-cash deal to buy TalkSport owner for £220m

Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League
TalkSport covers a range of live sporting events including Premier League matches (Source: Getty)

Media giant News Corp has agreed to pay £220.3m for the company that owns UK radio station TalkSport.

The deal for Wireless Group comes after it changed its name from UTV Media in March, following the sale of its TV assets to ITV for around £100m.

Wireless shares have shot up 70 per cent on the news, from under 200p to 313.5p at the time of writing.

News Corp shares were up 4.5 per cent in New York.

The all-cash offer, which has been agreed by both companies' boards, would see shareholders paid 315p per share – a premium of more than 70 per cent on Wireless' closing share price on Wednesday 29 June.

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News UK boss Rebekah Brooks said: "The Wireless Group represents an opportunity for us to take advantage of its strong radio presence to build on our growing digital success story and to bring some of the best journalistic and broadcasting talent into one group."

Brooks returned as chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's UK-based newspaper division in September last year, having resigned in 2011 over the phone hacking scandal.

TalkSport is a leading radio station in the UK, covering numerous sporting events including Premier League matches. Former Liverpool and Aston Villa forward Stan Collymore commentates on many of its games.

The station was founded by former Sun editor and media entrepreneur Kelvin MacKenzie.

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Wireless's "audience complements the audience of The Sun," according to the offer statement. "The acquisition also raises the prospect of further international digital expansion for the Wireless brands."

As well as TalkSport, the company owns Virgin Radio UK and 12 local radio stations, most of which are in the north west of England.

Numis and Ireland-regulated Goodbody have been advising Wireless on the deal, while Lepe is the sole financial adviser for News Corp.

BEHIND THE DEAL

Lorna Tilbian – Numis

  • The Numis executive director led a team which also included Nick Westlake, Chris Wilkinson and Michael Wharton.
  • She celebrated the deal announcement by heading to Wimbledon on Thursday, and was on Centre Court to see Andy Murray ease past Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets.
  • Tilbian has a history with Wireless. She was involved in its flotation in 2000 and advised Ulster TV on its acquisition of the company in 2006 – when Murdoch was a shareholder. She says: “I feel we’ve nurtured it for a decade for Murdoch, and now that the teenager has grown up and gone to university, we’re handing it back to him.”

Also advising...

  • Kevin Keating led the Goodbody team, also on the Wireless side. Advising News Corp were Julian Culhane and Jonathan Goodwin at Lepe Partners.

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