Massive Media Merger

There was a bombshell in the media landscape today as the country’s two largest and oldest media entities, the Jamaica Gleaner and the RJR communications group announced an agreement to merge their media operations.

According to the entities – the multi-billion dollar deal could take up to six months to be finalized.

The Gleaner Company is 180 years old. Radio Jamaica is 65.

The announcement this afternoon that the companies directors have signed an agreement which will see the combination of their media businesses has shocked the media landscape.

It’s sending tremors in media board rooms and houses.

RJR and the Gleaner say the Jamaica Stock Exchange has been advised of the deal.

Addressing a media conference a short while ago at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Chairman of the RJR Group Lester Spaulding described the agreement as the most exciting development in media this century.

The transaction will require shareholders and court approval as well as some support from regulators including the stock exchange.

The Gleaner and RJR say additional meetings will be had in order to have the merger further concretized.

A stock-for-stock deal has been agreed in which Radio Jamaica will issue and exchange $1.2 billion in shares on a one for one basis to shareholders of the Gleaner.

This for 100 percent of a newly formed subsidiary Gleaner Company Media Limited, GCML.

The deal will also see shareholders of the Gleaner Company Limited owning 50 percent of RJR’s common stocks.

Existing RJR shareholders will own the remaining 50 percent of the combined business.

The new media group will be led by current RJR boss, Gary Allen, who will be the Chief Executive Officer.

Gleaner Managing Director, Christopher Barnes will be Chief Operating Officer of the new entity.

Mr. Spaulding is to be the new Chairman and Gleaner’s boss, Oliver Clarke, Deputy Chairman.

Meanwhile, the Union of Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Personnel, UTASP, says it’s surprised by the merger.

UTASP represents some categories of workers at the Gleaner Company. Its President is St Patrice Ennis.

Mr. Ennis says the union was told today that the merger has not been finalized.

St Patrice Ennis, President of UTASP, speaking this afternoon with Nationwide News.

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