Vista Radio is ready to expand east, now a major new investor, Westerkirk Capital, has officially come on board.
“We got CRTC approval early in July, so this week we closed the transaction where Westerkirk bought out all the shareholders, other than the executive management team,” explained Vista President and CEO Margot Micallef.
Since 2004, Vista has grown from one radio station in Duncan, BC, to operating 38 radio licenses across BC, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Still, the founders always intended for Vista to be a national broadcaster and Micallef says changing the investment structure will pave the way.
“Previously, we had a number of shareholders who were individuals so it’s really hard to go back and raise capital in that kind of structure,” said Micallef. “The Westerkirk transaction injects a whole lot more capital so Vista can continue to grow.”
Subject to CRTC approval, the first thing Westerkirk will fund is Vista’s acquisition of the Haliburton Broadcast Group, which consists of 24 radio stations across Ontario.
“This is a major vote of confidence in what Vista does. We’re very clear that our focus is in small and mid-sized markets, delivering local content and truly being part of the fabric of each community,” Micallef said.
“What Westerkirk said they like about our strategy is that we don’t buy a radio station to start making cuts or consolidate or regionalize. We actually spend money in the markets we acquire to enhance the operation, enhance the local presence of the radio station, enhance the quality of the programming and the technical capabilities.”
The Haliburton deal is set to come before the CRTC on September 10, 2012, and Micallef says Vista is in talks with other broadcasters across the country to further expand the business.