UK cable operator NTL and telco Virgin Mobile are preparing to shake hands on their troubled takeover deal [WAMN: 17-Jan-06].

The cellphone company's board is expected to recommend NTL's £900 million ($1.56bn; €1.31bn) bid to its shareholders and both firms are working towards an announcement by the end of this week.

Virgin Mobile, which is 71.3% owned by colourful tycoon Sir Richard Branson, will continue to operate as a separate business in the enlarged group, under the leadership of current ceo Tom Alexander.

The agreement with Virgin will enable NTL to offer customers a 'quadruple' play of TV, telephony, internet and cellphone services using the telco's iconic brand name.

Branson accepted less for each of his shares than the amount offered to minority investors to ensure the deal went through after the board rejected an initial approach from NTL.

The cable firm, which is US-owned but operates solely in Britain, is also trying to complete a merger with smaller rival Telewest.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff