The merger of John Singleton’s Macquarie Radio Network (MRN) and Fairfax Media stations has cleared its final hurdle with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announcing this morning that it has no objections to the deal.
The decision comes after the ACCC talked to advertisers, agencies, consumers and other radio stations and networks about their concerns and concluded the combined Macquarie/Fairfax radio business would still face strong competition.
“The ACCC considered the effect of the proposed transaction on the price of radio advertising, as well as the quality of news and other content provided to audiences,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
Under the $200 million deal, Fairfax will acquire 54.5% of MRN, which would then own talk stations 2UE and 2GB and easy listening station 2CH. Due to regulatory requirements, it will be forced dispose of 2CH in Sydney and 4LM in Mt Isa.
MRN will acquire 100% of Fairfax Radio in exchange for new Macquarie ordinary shares, plus $18 million cash.
The deal unites previously fierce combatants. Sydney’s most popular broadcaster, Alan Jones, was at 2UE before being lured to 2GB by Singleton in an equity deal that turned around the fortunes of the previously ailing station. 2UE has struggled ever since.
MRN shareholders will meet to discuss the issue on March 25.
Fairfax Media shares are up 2.6% to $0.975 this morning.
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