Chrysalis in talks on radio sale

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Chrysalis is in exclusive talks with an investment group over the sale of its radio business in an agreement that analysts said could bring the group more than £170m.

Michael Tabor, former owner of a chain of betting shops, is believed to be the leader of the group talking to Chrysalis, which owns the Heart FM, LBC and Galaxy stations.

The company, which also has a large music publishing business, began a review of its radio arm in February after reporting a half-year loss.

Analysts believed Chrysalis was looking for £190m-£200m for the business, but interest from potential investors was not as great as first expected and some who were predicted to bid, including Guardian Media Group, the owner of the UK’s Guardian newspaper, did not do so.

People familiar with the matter said on Tuesday that the company was now in exclusive talks with a private investment group in which the principal figure is believed to be Mr Tabor.

Born in east London in 1941, Mr Tabor now has homes in Monaco and Barbados.

He began to build his considerable fortune in 1995 when he sold his Arthur Prince betting chain, which started with two shops in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, to Corals for a sum reported at the time as £27m.

With a series of equally shrewd investments, not least in racehorses, Mr Tabor now has a personal fortune estimated in some quarters to be as high as £500m.

He is a close associate of the well-known racing owners and investors JP McManus and John Magnier and has bought several racehorses in partnership with the latter’s wife Sue.

But it is not thought Mr Magnier or Mr McManus have a leading role in the talks to buy the Chrysalis radio business.

In February, falling radio advertising revenues and weak CD and DVD sales offset a good performance in music publishing to cause Chrysalis to record a £100,000 loss before tax for the previous six months.

One analyst described a price in the range of £170m-£180m as “respectable” and said it left the rest of Chrysalis, valued at £105m and with debt of slightly more than £60m, looking like a tempting target for outside interest.

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