Think of Capital Radio and it is likely that images of Johnny Vaughan or Chris Tarrant will spring to mind. For the more mature listeners it might evoke memories of Kenny Everett or even the station’s very first broadcaster back in October 1973, Richard, now Lord, Attenborough – honest.
But recent events have been more about Peter Harris than any of Capital’s big stars, past or present.
Harris is the group finance director for Capital Radio Group. This week the company, which not only comprises London’s number one commercial radio station, but also Capital Gold, centuryfm, XFM and Choice FM, announced its yearly results.
Although they were announced on the same day as Accountancy Age went to press, they were expected to show that radio revenues would have increased by 4% on the year.
This would mean that Capital had displayed a consistent rate of growth throughout the four quarters of the year. For the quarter until September 30, revenues were expected to grow by 4%. In the previous quarter the increase was 5%.
The company noted some concerns over the long-term viability of advertising revenues, but what might interest the market more is the possible merger between Capital and the GWR Group, owners of Classic FM.
If the deal goes ahead, Harris could find himself presiding as CFO over the largest radio group in the UK. That’s if he stays. Clearly there will have to be a discussion about who keeps what job.
If it goes through, 55 analogue radio stations, 93 digital stations and some 18 million listeners will be affected. The scale may be bigger than others Capital has seen, but mergers and acquisitions are not new to Harris.
He has been at Capital for the past 10 years, joining as the head of business development, where his first brief was to take control of the acquisition of Southern Radio, which operates along the south coast.
In 1996, he was promoted to his current job where he has also seen Capital buy Border TV, Beat 106 and, in November last year, Choice FM.
But it is not just in the radio industry where Harris has held important positions when it comes to M&As.
After qualifying as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse in 1987, Harris joined Lloyds Merchant Bank as a corporate financier.
Harris spent four years at Lloyds before heading to NatWest Markets as the manager of the corporate finance department.
There, his day-to-day job involved managing a number of corporate finance transactions, including acquisitions as well as disposals of some clients. It was from NatWest that he made the unpredictable move, from the outside at least, to Capital.
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