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LONDON (Reuters) - Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien's media group Communicorp said it was buying eight British regional radio stations, branded "Smooth", "Real" and "Capital", from Global Radio, his first move into the industry in Britain.
Competition authorities said Global, which owns the Capital, Heart and Classic FM networks, had to sell stations in seven areas of Britain where it dominated the radio ad market as a result of it buying GMG Radio in 2012.
Thursday's deal, valued at about 35 million pounds ($57 million) according to a person familiar with the situation, makes Communicorp the fourth-largest commercial radio group in the UK from a standing start.
The stations have 2.8 million combined listeners, according to Radio Joint Audience Research, Communicorp said. The eight stations are Smooth East Midlands, Smooth North West, Smooth North East, Capital Scotland, Capital South Wales, Real Radio North Wales, Real Radio Yorkshire and Real XS Manchester.
Communicorp said it planned to rebrand the "Real" stations under the "Heart" franchise, and relaunch the Smooth stations with local programming. ($1 = 0.6133 British pounds)
Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Tom Pfeiffer