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BBC Scotland's Hayley Miller
"SMG will not comment on the reported offer"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 15:02 GMT
Ginger deters Granada
Chris Evans Chris Evans' number seems to be coming up again

The chairman of Granada has ruled out trying to take over the Scottish Media Group if SMG ends up buying Chris Evans' Ginger Media company.

The Scottish Media Group, owners of Scottish Television and The Herald newspaper, is understood to have made a 225m bid for the TV and radio company.

The industry has been expecting Granada, which owns 20% of SMG, to attempt to take over the Scottish group but this will not happen if the Ginger bid succeeds.

Granada boss Gerry Robinson said he would be "strongly against" the Ginger acquisition as it was "not a very good move, financially".

But he said if the Ginger deal did not go ahead Granada would still be open to buying SMG, in which it already has a 18.6% stake.

Lottery programme

Ginger Media, in which Mr Evans has a 55% stake, owns Virgin Radio and produces the Channel 4 programme TFI Friday and Red Alert With The National Lottery, the new BBC One new lottery programme.

Ginger Media Group A US firm is also said to have made an offer
Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson also owns a 20% stake in Ginger which he took as part of the deal to sell the Virgin Radio business to Mr Evans.

The company has refused to comment on the reported takeover bid but Ginger chief executive David Campbell said the company was not yet committed to selling out to another media concern.

He said: "We have not yet dismissed the option of floating the company on the stock market next year."

Mr Campbell added that Chris Evans would stay as a presenter with Ginger, whatever happened to it.

It is reported Mr Evans would also like to keep a minority stake in the business if it is sold.

US media firm Clear Channel Communications Inc is said to have made a 175m offer for Ginger.

Traditional base

SMG is Scotland's largest independent broadcaster and has sought to expand out of its traditional base. One of its best-known programmes is the long-running Highland soap series Take the High Road.

"This is not a surprise. For the last year we have been saying we have interest in the whole UK market," a company source said.

STV Cowcaddens SMG owns Scottish Television
But other industry sources said SMG was trying to put in a "poison pill" against the unwanted attentions of hotels and television company Granada Group.

They said that by buying Ginger, SMG hoped to make itself a less attractive prospect for Granada, which already owns a 20% stake in the Scottish company and is widely expected to launch a takeover bid for SMG next year.

Granada also owns London Weekend Television, and current media ownership rules state that it could not own both LWT and a London-wide radio station like Virgin, which has an FM licence in the capital.

Earlier this year SMG took a 20% stake in Scottish Premier League football club Heart of Midlothian for 8m.

The deal was similar to moves in England which have seen Granada buy a stake in Liverpool and BSkyB purchase Leeds United shares.

SMG has also been in talks about increasing its 20% stake in the breakfast broadcaster GMTV, a deal the group still wants to pursue.

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See also:
24 Nov 99 |  Business
TV rentals boost Granada
02 Sep 99 |  Scotland
Scots firm 'poised for GMTV bid'
06 Sep 99 |  Scotland
SMG takes stake in Hearts
20 Aug 99 |  The Company File
Ginger to spice up stock market?
05 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Chris and Geri's Ginger decade
12 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Spicing up the Gingers

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