On what was otherwise a quiet morning for markets, radio and podcast network HT&E (ASX:HT1) announced it was buying regional radio network Grant Broadcasting.

The deal will cost HT&E – the owner of the KIIS network and iHeart Radio app among other assets – $307.5 million. Grant Broadcasting began in 1942 with a single radio station in Dubbo and owns over 52 radio stations.

HT&E told shareholders the deal represented an attractive price and would it expand its footprint in regional Australia.

“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,” declared HT&E CEO Ciaran Davis.

“The leading metropolitan audio network and the leading regional radio network will have an unwavering commitment to live, local and multi-platform content, across an 8 million strong broadcast and digital distribution network and presents an appealing proposition for our clients, listeners, employees and shareholders.”

The deal will be funded predominantly in cash and debt although some shares will be issued.

HT&E (ASX:HT1) share price chart


Things getting better for the company

COVID-19 represented a tough time for the company – its net profit after tax falling from $20.1m to $3.6m as advertisers cut back on marketing expenditure.

But things have been turning around for HT&E.

The company’s radio businesses grew its revenue by 17% in the September quarter and another 8.1% in October – above the industry average of 6.1%.

Its Hong Kong outdoor advertising subsidiary performed well too, with the company tipping a 40% jump in revenues for 2021 and saying it had returned to cashflow positivity on a monthly basis.

HT&E also recently cashed out on its stake in Ooh! Media (ASX:OML), betting $49 million which represented a $31 million gain on the initial investment and settled an outstanding tax liability of $195 million for just $71 million.

The company yesterday disclosed to the ASX that it received over $10 million in JobKeeper funds in 2020 but did not claim any in 2021.