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Thursday, August 19, 1999 Published at 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK

Business: The Company File

Ginger to spice up stock market?

Chris Evans' stake in Ginger is estimated to be worth 80m

Chris Evans is reported to be thinking of floating his Ginger Media Group on the stock market.

The DJ and TV presenter took over Richard Branson's Virgin Radio two years ago. The group also owns a TV production and Internet business.

Some estimates put Ginger's value at 150m. That makes Chris Evans' 55% stake worth more than 80m.

[ image: Richard Branson is a major shareholder in Ginger]
Richard Branson is a major shareholder in Ginger
Richard Branson owns 20% of the company, and venture capital group Apax Partners also has a 20% stake.

Ginger is understood to have spoken to a number of banks, including Goldman Sachs and HSBC Investment Bank, about handling a possible flotation.

David Campbell, chief executive at Ginger, declined to comment on the reports, but said the group was looking to expand.

"What we are good at is appealing to the 20 to 44-year-old audience and we look for complementary media interests to what we already have," he said.

[ image:  ]
Earlier this year Ginger made a bid to take a stake in the tabloid newspaper the Daily Star, owned by United News and Media.

"That's off the agenda now, but if we found something else that delivers that audience we would be interested," said Mr Campbell.

Ginger is thought to have made 15m profit in the past year from turnover of 50m. That compares with 10.5m from revenue of 40m the previous year.

Irreverent and rude

Although an extrovert character who has a love-hate relationship with the press, Chris Evans would not necessarily be out of place in the City of London.

He has proved adept at finding the right vehicles for his talent - such as TFI Friday and Don't Forget Your Toothbrush, which enjoyed considerable foreign sales - and has turned Ginger into a respected and profitable business.

And while he has made a career from being irreverent and often rude, he has a reputation for being a perfectionist who keeps his employees under close control.

He is also keen to be at the forefront of media technology. This week Virgin Radio said it was working on a scheme to broadcast over mobile phones.

Internet broadcaster

Tests with Ericcson had shown it could be possible to pick up the UK station from anywhere in the world.

"Third-generation mobile networks will transform the landscape of the radio industry and provide the stimulus for global consolidation into entertainment groups," said Ginger in a statement.

Virgin already broadcasts over the Internet, claiming more than 350,000 people a month listen Online.

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