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SMG approves £53m Virgin Radio sale

LONDON - SMG shareholders have approved the £53.2m disposal of Virgin Radio to Times of India.

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Incoming owner, Absolute Radio, owned by Times of India, did not purchase the rights to the Virgin brand and will be relaunching an entirely new national radio brand in the UK this autumn. There will a £15m investment to create and market the new brand.

Richard Huntingford, executive chairman of Virgin Radio, announced he would be stepping down from his position at the beginning of the month, but is contracted to stay with the company until September 2008. He will use this time to help with the transition.

Absolute Radio chief executive Donnach O'Driscoll will assume the same role at Virgin Radio, as will chief operating officer Clive Dickens and Absolute Radio financial director, Adrian Robinson.

Nick Hewat, Virgin Radio sales director, David Lloyd, programming director and Andy Grumbridge, digital director, will all stay with the company once its acquisition by Absolute Radio is complete.

Times of India is one of India's biggest media conglomerates. It has interests in print, TV,  radio, the internet and events, managing some of India's biggest media brands including Grazia, Top Gear and The Times of India.

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