LONDON: Bonanza time for Virgin Media's top executives in 2006 - if not for the company's shareholders as they reeled from the pain of a £1.02 billion (€754m; £510m) loss.

The newly formed company came into being on 9 February this year after the merger of lossmaking US cable companies NTL and Telewest, and the acquisition of UK cellphone provider Virgin Mobile.

Wallowing amid its massive inherited debt, the sea of red ink failed to deter the company from generously rewarding its top executive and non-executive directors - as gleefully pointed out by Tuesday's edition of NewsCorp's UK daily title The Times.

Curiously, however, The Times article omitted to inform readers that it is is not an entirely disinterested party - being the sister company of BSkyB, of which Virgin Media is its principal rival.

This memory lapse apart, clan Murdoch's megaphone was assiduous in parading the detail of Virgin Media's generosity to its cadre of senior executives in the year ended December 2006.

  • Virgin, registered in Delaware USA, handed ceo Steve Burch $11.14m in pay, bonuses and share awards.

  • Hard on his heels was Anthony 'Cob' Stenham, the former NTL chairman, who died in October and received $10.7m in pay and awards in 2006.

  • Current executive chairman Jim Mooney was awarded $7.29m plus $1.75m from selling shares and options acquired previously.

  • Other beneficiaries of the board's munificence were Sir Richard Branson and former NTL honcho William Huff. The former, who sold his his stake in Virgin Mobile in exchange for shares in Virgin Media, is now the company's largest single shareholder.

    Data sourced from The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff