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Orion Media eyed by radio rivals

Orion Media, the Midlands-based radio group, is turning up the dial on a £40m-£50m auction after attracting attention from rivals.

Owners LDC, the private equity arm of taxpayer backed Lloyds Banking Group, originally founded the business in 2009 by putting together a collection of stations that Global Radio was forced to sell following its takeover of GCAP.

Orion Media is understood to have had significant interest from UK players such as Kiss and Magic FM owner Bauer Media and Wireless Group, which runs Virgin Radio and talkSport, and Global, which owns stations including Heart, Capital and Classic FM.

One source said that buyers were also likely to include European groups such as Luxembourg’s RTL and French media groups Lagardere and NRJ.

Analysts expect Orion Media to be valued at around £40m based on other recent deals in the sector, including Juice FM’s £10m sale to Global.

Orion owns eight commercial stations across the Midlands under the Free and Gem brands, with a weekly audience of 1.3m people, 16pc higher than last year.

The company also runs an annual music concert, Free Radio Live, at the Genting Arena in Birmingham which has included performances by Olly Murs, Ed Sheeran, Jess Glynn, The Saturdays, The Vamps and Ella Eyre.

Orion, which is the biggest commercial radio station in the Midlands, posted sales of £16m last year on the back of growth in DAB and mobile listening.

Around 90pc of the adult UK population listen to radio at least once a week, according to industry figures by market research group Rajar.

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