The twists in the ongoing sale of Sunrise Radio’s former frequency 1458AM and 1035AM to Lyca Media have taken yet another turn.
Last month, Lyca Media purchased a number of frequencies from the Sunrise Radio Group, which were orchestrated by consultant Ketan Somaia. In a surprising turn of events, UK’s Guardian newspaper has reported allegations Somaia is facing, which could put the sale of Lyca Media’s newly purchased stations under scrutiny. A report in the paper states that the involvement of Somaia’s involvement has been flagged to media regular, Ofcom.
The Guardian said that Somaia is awaiting trial for fraud at the Old Bailey. He is reported to have taken around £14m in a series of deals dating back to 1999. Somaia was a former business associate of Tory grandee Cecil Parkinson, who is awaiting trial for fraud at the Old Bailey. The trial is scheduled to take place this month.
Ofcom, who is yet to approve the licences obtained by Lyca Media, could now delay any decision until the case has been heard. If Somaia is convicted, it will be interesting to see how Ofcom will respond to Lyca Media’s acquisition and will question if Lyca Media is a fit and proper holder of a broadcast licence. The report adds that Somaia is not listed as a shareholder in Lyca Media II.
Anil Shetty, Lycatel international development director confirmed that Somaia had no financial involvement in the station. He added, “Mr Somaia acts solely as a consultant to Lyca Media II, in relation to the recent acquisition by Lyca Media II of assets of the former radio business Sunrise, as purchased from administrators Grant Thornton.”
Ofcom will announce its decision on the transfer application relating to the four radio licences, formerly part of the Sunrise Radio Group, in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, last week, the founder of Sunrise Radio Group, entrepreneur Avtar Lit was given an extension of 14 days by the Bankruptcy High Court in London (case number 5106 of 2013) to come up with an Individual Voluntary Agreement proposal to his creditors.