Malone's Liberty Eyes Virgin Media

31 July 2007

NEW YORK: US-headquartered cable operator Liberty Global, chaired by savvy industry veteran John Malone, is reportedly mulling a bid for troubled UK cable provider Virgin Media.

Malone says his interest in the £11.4 billion ($23.09bn; €16.89bn) auction is exploratory but that his company is doing its homework". Liberty Global is a collection of cable television systems spanning Europe, Japan and Latin America.

VM put itself up for auction some weeks ago following an unsolicited overture from global private equity firm Carlyle Group.

Known in its previous incarnation as NTL-Telewest, VM is largely owned by US investors, although it operates solely in the UK where it enjoys a cable services monopoly.

British über-entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand, is its largest investor with a 10.5% holding. Including cellphone subscribers, VM has around 13.5 million customers.

It is currently embroiled in a bitter legal wrangle with satellite TV giant BSkyB which it accuses of anticompetitive behavior .

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff