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News Corp offers to buy UK's Wireless Group for US$296m

[LONDON] News Corp agreed to buy UK radio broadcaster Wireless Group Plc for about £220 million (US$295 million) to gain media brands including Talksport, which has the digital audio rights for Premier League and FA Cup soccer matches.

News Corp, the Wall Street Journal and New York Post publisher led by billionaire Chairman Rupert Murdoch, is offering Wireless shareholders 315 pence in cash for each share. In addition, shareholders will receive previously announced dividends totaling 13.75 pence. The offer is 70 per cent above Wireless' closing price of 185 pence in London on Wednesday, News Corp said in a statement.

"News Corp believes that Wireless represents an excellent strategic fit with its existing operations, broadening News Corp.'s range of services in the UK, Ireland and internationally," the company said.

Wireless Group advanced 68 per cent to 310 pence at 2.01 pm in London. The shares had declined 24 per cent this year before today's announcement.

News Corp has been investing in digital and international operations to compensate for falling print revenue at its newspapers as readers go online. Wireless Group complements the audience of News Corp's UK Sun newspaper and offers significant opportunity for cross-promotion, the publisher said. The offer for Belfast-based Wireless, which comes a week after Britons voted to leave the European Union, follows a trend of investing in the UK and Ireland for News Corp, the company said.

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Wireless operates several digital businesses and a number of radio stations, including Talksport, which it says is the world's biggest sports radio station. The company, formerly known as UTV Media Plc, sold its television assets to UK commercial broadcaster ITV Plc for £100 million in February.


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