Macquarie Radio Network director John Singleton has expressed interest in the regional TV company Prime Media, after Prime foreshadowed the departure of a chunk of its board following the surprise loss of its cornerstone investor.
Mr Singleton told BusinessDay that he was ”very interested” in Prime Media, the regional affiliate of ratings leader Channel Seven, which might become a takeover target if media ownership laws are loosened to allow takeovers of regional free-to-air broadcasters by metro ones.
Prime Media’s chairman Paul Ramsay last week sold his 30 per cent stake – worth just under $100 million – to new and existing institutional shareholders, and flagged his departure and that of two other directors. It is unknown whether Mr Singleton owns any Prime shares.
Mr Singleton’s expression of interest comes after he and business partner Mark Carnegie dumped their small stake in Fairfax Media, owner of The Age, following a public stoush with the company over failed talks to merge their respective radio stations.
Talks about combining Macquarie Radio Network, which owns Sydney’s 2GB station, and Fairfax’s radio arm, owner of 3AW in Melbourne, have been going for about a decade, Mr Singleton said.
He and Mr Carnegie own 70 per cent of Macquarie Radio Network.
Documents lodged with the ASX show Gutenberg Investments – belonging to Mr Singleton and Mr Carnegie, plus major shareholder Gina Rinehart – has trimmed its stake by 0.15 per cent to just under 15 per cent of the company.
The trio’s stake was combined on legal advice, due to the friendship between Mrs Rinehart and Mr Singleton.
Mr Singleton and Mr Carnegie sold at 94¢ a share, a hefty profit on their one-year investment that was designed to deliver the radio merger.
Another major Fairfax shareholder, the fund manager Allan Gray, has trimmed its stake in Fairfax by 1 per cent to 10.4 per cent.
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