Bauer buys Orion in further consolidation

By James Cridland for
Posted 6 May 2016, 7.43am edt

Bauer Media

Europe's Bauer Media has purchased the UK's Orion Media, the Midlands-based radio group that owned Free Radio and Gem.

Orion brings 1.3m weekly listeners, and six radio stations, to Bauer's portfolio. It recently celebrated a four year audience high, and was headed-up by broadcast executive Phil Riley. In 2014, the company moved national radio sales from Global to Bauer. It was the fifth largest radio group in terms of total audience; Bauer remains second-largest after Global.

Bauer now owns 71 radio stations in the UK, as well as stations in the Nordic countries and elsewhere. It's the UK's digital radio leader, and its inStream+ product was recently expanded to offer targeted radio advertising on more of Bauer's services.

Press release

Bauer Media completes acquisition of Orion Media

The Bauer Media Group has acquired the market-leading Midlands based commercial radio group Orion Media, which operates the Free Radio and Gem radio brands.

Reaching more than 1.25m million people weekly, Free Radio and Gem complement Bauer’s network of city stations and extend the total reach of Bauer‘s national and regional radio brands to 17.4 million. The move sees Bauer Media’s share of UK commercial radio listening increase to 34% and further develops it’s unique offer to advertisers and commercial partners.

The award-winning teams at Free Radio and Gem deliver much loved, compelling, local content in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Derby, Leicester, Hereford & Worcester and Nottingham.

Paul Keenan, CEO, Bauer Media commented, “Free Radio and Gem are influential radio stations in one of the UK’s fastest growing regions.

He continued, “Bauer’s desire to build out its extensive radio business is testament to the nature of the industry which continues to be a strong, robust and growing platform, thriving in the always-on, mobile, connected world. It’s promise of music discovery and curated entertainment; intimate companionship; and trusted and vital local news make it relevant and essential to its growing audience.”

“Bauer Media’s leadership in digital and personalised advertising technology such as InStream+ will accelerate the development of the brands and we look forward to working with the team to grow the business.”

Adrian Serle, CEO, Orion Media said, “"Orion has established market-leading status for audiences and revenues in each of its markets, something our teams should be immensely proud of - we are extremely confident that the business will continue to thrive under Bauer's ownership"

The transaction provides an exit for Orion Media's institutional backers, LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, which originally invested in the business in 2009.

In the UK, Bauer Media now has 71 radio stations including national radio brands KISS, Magic and Absolute Radio; local brands forming the Bauer City Network including Key 103 in Manchester, Radio City in Liverpool, Hallam FM in Sheffield, Metro Radio in Newcastle, Clyde 1 in Glasgow and Forth 1 in Edinburgh; and is a UK market leader in digital listening with a strong portfolio of digital commercial radio stations.

Based in Hamburg, Bauer Media Group is one of the world’s most successful media companies. Over 600 magazines, more than 400 digital products and 100 radio and TV stations reach millions of people across the globe. The company has more than 11,000 employees in 20 countries

More information

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.

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