DLA plays support for Jazz FM in revised Guardian Group offer

DLA has once again found favour with long-term client Jazz fm, acting for the company on a takeover bid by the Guardian Media Group.

Guardian last week announced a revised cash offer for the radio broadcaster of 195p per share, with a loan note alternative, in a deal that values the entire company at £44.5m.

For DLA, the deal represents a strengthening of the firm’s position as the company’s main corporate adviser. Corporate partner Mark Taylor, who led the team, first acted for the client in 1991, when the company (then known as Golden Rose Communications) put in a bid for London Jazz Radio.

While the company has continued to instruct DLA on a fairly regular basis, it has also had flirtations with other firms because of personal alliances with a changing management team.

The last substantial piece of work for Jazz FM – a
strategic alliance and share offer to Clear Channel International in 1999 – was farmed out to Simmons & Simmons. However, this relationship has since come to an end and DLA seems once again to be flavour of the month.

Lovells partner Richard Ufland led the team acting on behalf of Guardian, which is a long-term client of Lovells.
Guardian already holds an 18.5 per cent stake in Jazz fm and last week’s announcement follows Guardian’s original offer of 180p per share, made on 7 May. After the initial offer was made, Clear Channel, which holds a 30.9 per cent stake in Jazz fm, gave Guardian an irrevocable undertaking to accept the offer. This would have taken Guardian’s stake to around 50 per cent.

However, following the revised offer, another quarter of shareholders and directors have given irrevocable undertakings to accept the offer. This will take Guardian’s stake to approximately 80 per cent. The company ultimately hopes to gain 100 per cent of Jazz fm.

Ufland commented: “With the forthcoming Communications Bill, I suspect that this is the first of many consolidation transactions within the British media industry.”