Virgin Radio for Australia says Branson

Sir Richard Branson has announced plans for his London-based Virgin Group to launch a range of new ventures in Australia over the next 18 months, which could include the introduction of Virgin-branded radio stations.

Branson, who is in Australia to promote Virgin Blue’s initial public offering, says he will invest “hundreds of millions of dollars in Australia” over the next year and a half in various ventures.

He told The Financial Review that Australia’s attractive economy, teamed with his group’s already strong brand name here, mean Virgin can “put in as much as we take out over the next few years . . . because of the booming economy.”

He would like to spend “a couple of hundred million snapping up radio licences to establish a national radio station – negotiations are under way in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide,” according to Branson.

If Branson is looking at the next round of FM licences in the capital cities, he will find himself limited in what he can acquire, and if he is looking to buy existing radio businesses he may be looking for a long time unless there is a change to the present media rules.

Virgin Radio in the UK is a significant supporter of Digital Radio, which has allowed new players to enter the British market in the digital band.