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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
UTV is in talks to buy Talksport
UTV owns the ITV franchise in Northern Ireland
Ulster Television (UTV) is in exclusive talks to buy Wireless Group, the owner of the Talksport radio station, it has been confirmed.

Wireless said it has given UTV a period of exclusivity for initial talks.

The move could potentially trump an earlier proposed management buyout plan at Wireless, led by its chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie.

His bid fell through in February after financial backers withdrew. On Tuesday shares in Wireless closed up 4.9%.

Wireless said on Tuesday that its three independent directors would consider any offer made from UTV.

A number of news agencies have suggested that the figure could be around 100m.

"Discussions are at a preliminary stage, and may or may not lead to an offer being made," UTV said in a statement.

Major shareholders

In addition to Talksport, Wireless owns 16 local radio stations across the UK.

Although Mr MacKenzie's management buyout attempt fell through in February, Talksport gave him authorisation to seek alternative investors.

Mr MacKenzie, a former editor of The Sun newspaper, currently owns 7% of Wireless.

Other shareholders include Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which owns 30% of the company, and US conglomerate Liberty Media, which has 28% of the shares.

UTV owns the ITV franchise in Northern Ireland and radio stations in both Ulster and the Republic of Ireland.

Its shares fell 1.5% on Tuesday.

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