Advent buys Dutch radio station

The global private equity house has added to its portfolio of European radio interests, taking a majority stake in Radio 538, a Dutch commercial radio station.

Advent International, the global private equity firm, has made its fourth acquisition in the European radio broadcasting market with the purchase of Radio 538, one of Holland’s leading private commercial radio stations.

Financial terms have not been disclosed for the transaction, which gives Advent a stake of 90 per cent in Radio 538. The remaining ten per cent stake will be held by Dutch media entrepreneur Lex Harding, who helped set up the station and becomes a member of the station’s supervisory board. He will be joined by Travis Baxter, a radio executive and consultant who has worked with Atlantic 252 and the BBC.

Radio 538 has an 11 per cent market share, amounting to 3m listeners per week. The station was recently awarded a new licence allowing it unrestricted national coverage, on a single frequency until September 2011. The business has increased audience and advertising revenue every year since its inception ten years ago.

In its annual accounts for the year ended June 2003, 538 reported revenue of just over E36m. Advent said the new funds would be used to increase its market share of both listeners and advertising revenue. “538 is a strong brand with an outstandingly commercial team, best-in-class programming and some of Holland’s most talented and popular DJs,” said Advent International director Fred Wakeman, who also joins the 538 board.

Radio 538 is Advent’s fourth European radio investment. Other investments include the E30m buyout of Danubius, Hungary’s leading commercial station, in May of this year from GWR Group. Advent also has radio interests in Poland, via commercial station RadioZet and Radio Kolor, a Polish independent FM station.