UTV selects Travers for Wireless Group buyout

Travers Smith Braithwaite has won its first instruction from Ulster Television (UTV) on the television and radio company’s acquisition of Wireless Group.

The instruction, led by corporate head Spencer Somerfield, came to the firm through a referral from UTV broker Numis. Travers has a longstanding relationship with Numis and last year advised the broker on the £134m accelerated IPO of The Lawyer’s parent company Centaur Holdings.

UTV beat rivals, including the former editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie, in an auction for Wireless Group – the owner of talkSport radio station – after tabling an offer close to £100m. MacKenzie, a Wireless executive, made a takeover approach in February, but was unable to secure financial backing from private equity houses.

The takeover marks UTV’s first foray into the UK market and will be financed through debt provided by Bank of Ireland (BOI). Macfarlanes, led by partner Tom Speechly, advised new client BOI.

The deal sees News Corp and Liberty Media, the US groups with controlling stakes in Wireless, exit their investments. Rupert Murdoch will reap more than £20m for his holding, while MacKenzie stands to receive £6m for his stock.

UTV instructed Arthur Cox on Irish media regulation matters.