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International: Virgin Radio begins expansion drive in Asia, eyes India

12-January-2002
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International: Virgin Radio begins expansion drive in Asia, eyes India

Virgin Radio Asia has formed a joint venture with BEC-TERO Entertainment Co., a member of Thailand's largest commercial media conglomerate BEC World Public Co., to set up Virgin branded FM radio stations in Thailand. The new radio stations, Virgin BEC TERO Radio Thailand, will air via the U&I Corporation frequencies.

Virgin Radio Asia will support the new venture with industry specific management and operational expertise whilst BEC TERO will supply the project with local expertise and associated media and content related companies. Both partners will provide an undisclosed amount of capital in approximately equal amounts.

According to Virgin Radio, Thailand is a very young and large consumer market with 60% of its 62.7 million population aged between 15 and 49. The radio adspend for 2001 is expected to reach $113 million, and is anticipated to grow by 4.4% in 2002. Over the past several years, radio share of total advertising expenditure has averaged 10%, representing an attractive market for commercial radio operators.

Virgin Radio Asia was launched in June 2001 by the U.K.-based Virgin Group together with investment company Chinavest. This first joint venture is in line with the plan to build Asia's first regional network of radio stations focusing initially on Greater China, Thailand and India, before establishing a presence throughout Asia excluding Japan.

Negotiations are currently underway to acquire equity interests and management control in existing radio stations in several Asian markets including Singapore, Taiwan, the People's Republic of China, and India.

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