German firm Bauer Media Audio has agreed to buy Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp Group in a deal believed to be in excess of €100m.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, will see Bauer Media Audio enter the Republic of Ireland market for the first time and extends its audio business to eight countries.

The Denis O’Brien owned Communicorp Group owns the Newstalk, Today FM, Spin 1038, Spin Southwest and 98FM radio stations here.

It also owns digital radio sport station Off The Ball, digital audio exchange audioXI and aggregated listening platform GoLoud.

The deal will mark an end of Mr O’Brien’s long and significant involvement in media ownership here.

In 2019, Mr O’Brien sold his 29% stake in Independent News and Media to Mediahuis.

Communicorp Chairperson Lucy Gaffney said today’s deal marks the culmination of an “exciting and dynamic journey, which has enhanced and transformed radio in Ireland”.

Bauer Media Audio reaches over 55 million listeners weekly through its broadcast radio, online services, and podcasts across seven countries – the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Poland and Slovakia.

Its brands include KISS, Mix Megapol, Absolute Radio, Radio Norge, Radio Expres, Radio Nova, Radio 100 and RMF.

Communicorp Group owner Denis O’Brien

Paul Keenan, President of Bauer Media Audio, said that radio is very popular in Ireland with more than 80% of the population tuning in every week, adding that the industry makes a vital and much-valued contribution to the country’s rich cultural landscape.

He said today’s deal offers more choice for listeners alongside enhanced, targeted solutions for advertisers.

“We are very much looking forward to working with Communicorp CEO Simon Myciunka and his talented team,” he added.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin has said that ministerial approval is needed for any proposed media merger to protect the plurality of the Irish media. 

She said the Bauer Media Audio deal for Communicorp is subject to the statutory process and that it will have to follow a regulatory process, beginning with the Competition Consumer Protection Commission. If the commission clears the deal it will then go to her office for a ministerial review.

The minister said that any deal will be assessed on the basis that it will not damage media diversity.