LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has made an unexpected move into radio with the £220 million ($292.7 million) acquisition of U.K. media giant Wireless Group, the owner of Premier League soccer broadcaster Talksport.
The all-cash deal, which marks the first time News Corp. has entered the broadcast arena since it split from 21st Century Fox in 2013, saw the company take a 70% premium on Wireless’ price when the London stock market closed Thursday.
Wireless Group, which was known until last year as UTV, owns Virgin Radio and a host of local radio stations across the Britain and Ireland. It was founded originally by Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor and current columnist of News Corp.-owned tabloid The Sun, who sold it to UTV in 2005 for $130 million.
News Corp was a 30% shareholder in Wireless, while John Malone’s Liberty Global held a 28% share when UTV acquired the company.
News Corp. said the deal represents “an excellent strategic fit” for the company. The move gives Murdoch’s empire a major presence across all major media platforms.
“The acquisition will allow us to increase engagement for both businesses through the cross-promotion of our brands and the use of our respective talent,” News U.K. chief executive Rebekah Brooks said in a statement. “We also look forward to collaborating in the expansion of Wireless’ digital audio and international assets, which offer new opportunities for our business in the U.K. and globally.”
Talksport has the majority of Premier League radio rights in Britain, with the rest being held by the BBC. It also holds exclusive international rights for the league outside of Europe.