In a historic day for Australian radio, ARN’s parent company HT&E today announced its acquisition of Grant Broadcasters.
This positive news will mark the coming together of Australia’s #1 metro radio network, ARN, and Australia’s oldest, family-run regional radio company, Grant Broadcasters, giving advertisers the potential to reach over 90% of Australians nation-wide.
With an acquisition that includes radio and digital operations across 46 Grant’s stations, the partnership will significantly scale up ARN’s already robust business. When combined with ARN's existing 13 stations, ARN will now own 58 stations across 33 markets plus 46 DAB+ stations – resulting in a presence in every state and territory in Australia and an accelerated rollout of ARN’s established iHeartRadio digital audio platform into regional areas.
Strategically, this transaction fits very well for the growth ambitions of both businesses, allowing expansion of audience bases and fast-tracking the delivery of digital audio content and advertising opportunities across the whole of Australia. The combined network will deliver innovative, digitally enabled commercial solutions at scale and will enable the provision of nationally integrated commercial partnerships for clients, giving them the ability to access more than a third of Australian consumers in one transaction.
Of the exciting announcement, HT&E MD and ARN CEO Ciaran Davis said; “It is rare that an asset of this quality and strategic fit to our existing portfolio becomes available and we are excited by the opportunities presented by the coming together of these two great businesses.
“The station brands Grant Broadcasters have created have served their local communities with great commitment for decades, playing a pivotal role in the lives of their audiences, and we look forward to continuing that tradition.
“As the leading metropolitan audio network and leading regional radio network come together, our commitment to live and local content is completely unwavering. It means that through the voices of talent that local markets know and love, ARN will connect via multi-platform content across a broadcast and digital distribution network reaching more than 8 million people. It presents an appealing proposition for our clients, listeners, staff and shareholders alike.
“The recent successful resolution of HT&E’s tax matter with the ATO for $71m, and the gain of $31m on the divestment of our OML stake, significantly strengthened our balance sheet as we prepared for this transaction. Our disciplined approach to capital management and creation of shareholder value is further demonstrated by the accretive nature of this transaction that is being funded through existing cash reserves, financing facilities and the issuance of new shares to Grant Broadcasters.”
Alison Cameron, CEO of Grant Broadcasters continued; “Grant Broadcasters are delighted to be partnering with HT&E, who we consider to be the leading provider of radio and digital audio in Australia.
“For 80 years Walter Grant, his daughter Janet Cameron and her family have been operating regional radio stations that serve local communities in regional Australia. We are so very proud of the connection the stations have with those communities and of our staff for continuing that commitment.
“There is a strong cultural similarity between the two businesses with both ARN and Grant committed to expertly creating great local content for the communities we serve. Together we’ll be an elevated team of dedicated audio professionals who live and breathe our local audiences.
“Both our companies are profitable enterprises in their own right but this partnership will deliver scale, digital acceleration, and ensures our future profitability.”
Due to ACMA regulations, ARN will be required to sell 4KQ, caused by the company reaching its threshold of broadcast licenses in the broader Brisbane region.
Ciaran Davis explains; “4KQ is a station rich in history and a hugely important part of the ARN story and we are sorry to see it leave the network. Laurel, Gary & Mark, Brent James, Nick Michaels and the rest of the 4KQ team have been an incredible asset for the business and it is regrettable that to achieve growth for ARN, we are required to divest the station.”
The sale is worth $307.5m and will result in Grant Broadcasters' shareholders taking a 20% holding in HT&E, with Grant’s current CEO Alison Cameron joining the HT&E Board and current COO Rick Lenarcic joining ARN’s Executive Leadership Team.
It’s been a strong year of growth for HT&E with ongoing business acceleration and consistent COVID recovery. At the Half Year, revenue had increased by 21% to $110 million, EBITDA of +55%, and a net cash position of $122 million.