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Virgin Media in buyout talks with US giant Liberty Global

05 Feb 2013
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Virgin Media has confirmed it is in talks with US firm Liberty Global about being acquired, in a deal that could dramatically shake up the UK telecoms market.

Speculation about a deal began on Tuesday and Virgin issued a statement confirming talks were ongoing but gave few other details.

"Virgin Media confirms that it is in discussions with Liberty Global a leading international cable company, concerning a possible transaction," it said.

"A further announcement will be made in due course."

No hint of price has been given but based on the size of the company, it seems likely any deal could run into several billions, with some citing figures as high as $20bn.

Shares in Virgin Media jumped 18 percent on the speculation.

Adrian Drury, principal analyst at Ovum, told V3 that the move could pose a threat to BskyB but also TalkTalk and BT as it would bring disruption to all key markets including TV services and broadband.

"Liberty, like every operator, basis itself on unit income, so if the deal closes it will look to close that five million user gap with Sky and look to add not just TV customers but fixed broadband customers too, so that will definitely impact the telco market," he said.

"The companies that are currently fighting with Sky, like TalkTalk and BT with their ‘me too' offerings that's driving momentum in the fixed broadband business, will now have Liberty competing too."

Virgin Media is caught up in an ongoing broadband battle with BT as it seeks to trump its rival with faster headline speeds, although it has ruled out entering deals for the government's broadband funding, leaving it to BT.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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