Global Radio loses sell-off appeal

Competition Commission ruling ordering the sale of stations in seven areas of the UK upheld by appeal tribunal

Ashley Tabor's Global Radio has lost its appeal against a Competition Commission ruling ordering a wholesale sell-off of stations following its £70m takeover of GMG Radio.

Global Radio took its case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal after regulators ruled it must sell stations in seven areas of the UK to appease competition concerns over the GMG purchase, including Real and Smooth Radio.

The CAT announced on Friday that it had dismissed the appeal, lodged by Global after the Competition Commission ruling in May.

Global Radio said that it was disappointed at the CAT's decision.

A Global spokesperson said: "Obviously this is a disappointing outcome. We share the concerns of many within our industry, who believe the basis on which the Competition Commission formed their decision to be outdated."

Global Radio added that it would now consider the decision further.

The appeal defeat is a big blow for Global after it had originally offered to sell just three stations in response to the commission's provisional findings.

The only areas in which the GMG deal was cleared were in London and the West Midlands.

In all of the other areas affected – East Midlands, Cardiff, North Wales, Greater Manchester and the north-west, the north-east, central Scotland, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire – the commission ruled that Global had to sell either a Real or Smooth station, or one of its own services, such as Heart or Capital.

The forced sell-off means Global may be lucky to recoup half of the £70m-plus it cost to buy GMG Radio.

Global bought the stations in June last year in an 11th-hour bidding war with arch-rival Bauer, which recently bought Planet Rock and Absolute Radio.

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John Plunkett

The GuardianTramp

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