Bauer Media owns radio stations including Heat, Magic and Absolute Radio, as well as a chain of local stations, mostly in the north of England and central Scotland. Bauer says that the acquisition will boost its share of UK commercial radio listening increase to 34%.
Of the takeover, Paul Keenan, chief executive of Bauer Media said:
“Free Radio and Gem are influential radio stations in one of the UK’s fastest growing regions. 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.”
Orion's advertising sales, previously managed by Global, will now transfer to Bauer Media.
Orion was established in 2009 employing around 125 full time members of staff, 25 freelance presenters and an additional 40 people in various part-time or temporary positions. The business was started after Global Radio took over GCap - competition rules at the time forced Global to sell some of their Midlands stations, including BRMB and Beacon. Orion stepped in and took over running the stations, with Heart East Midlands running under a franchise arrangement, before Orion converted it to Gem 106 on 1st January 2011.It then brought all of its West Midlands stations under the Free Radio brand in 2012.
The company was part of an unsuccessful bid for the Digital 2 DAB multiplex licence.