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Liberty Global Completes GBP15bn Takeover of UK Cable ISP Virgin Media

Saturday, Jun 8th, 2013 (7:49 am) - Score 2,476

International cable operator Liberty Global (LGi) has, after clearing all the necessary shareholder and regulatory approvals, officially completed its £15bn (enterprise value) acquisition of broadband, phone and TV giant Virgin Media in the United Kingdom.

The move (first announced in Feb 2013) means that Virgin Media, which will retain its current brand, now becomes part of Liberty Global’s wider operations. The newly combined group has created one the world’s biggest triple-play broadband providers, serving a total of 25 million customers (47 million homes) across 14 countries through brands like UPC, Unitymedia, Kabel BW, Telenet and VTR.

Meanwhile Virgin Media’s former CEO, Neil Berkett, has left the company with the equivalent of £58 million in his pocket (mostly his own shares) and signed the reigns over to his New Zealand born replacement Tom Mockridge. The new boss was a former CEO of Sky Italia and use to head up Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspapers before he resigned. LGi’s boss, John Malone, and Murdoch have a long running rivalry.

Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, said:

Virgin Media has become one of the UK’s most powerful media brands thanks to both the loyalty of its customers and the energy of its employees. I am fortunate to be joining the company at this important inflection point in its development, and look forward to working closely with Mike and the broader Liberty Global team to deliver cutting-edge products and services that excite and inspire our customers.”

Mike Fries, President and CEO of Liberty Global, said:

This is a great day for customers, employees and shareholders of both Liberty Global and Virgin Media. With superior network capacity, the fastest broadband speeds and innovative digital TV platforms, we’ve never been more excited about the growth potential and strategic direction of our business.

Virgin Media will continue to thrive under the leadership of Tom Mockridge who starts as CEO today, with the support of a fantastic management team which includes both Liberty Global and Virgin Media executives.”

It’s unclear precisely what the future will now hold for Virgin Media’s network, although LGi has previously pointed to the “significant potential to monetize [Virgin Media’s] customer base” and most recently hinted at plans to launch a new range of products and services. Virgin Media are often regarded as a “premium” service so it will be interesting to see where they find the potential to monetize.

Some have speculated that Virgin Media might even begin to expand the reach of its cable platform, which currently covers around half of the country (population). Certainly there are many areas where this would be viable but at the same time Virgin wouldn’t want to attract any new regulation from Ofcom (e.g. forcing them to offer open wholesale access to rival ISPs) and is thus likely to keep any such plans, if they even exist (no sign of this yet), to only a limited scale.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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