The on-off deal between UK cellphone network Virgin Mobile and cable operator NTL appears to be on again.

Reports suggest the US owned cable company, whose operations are confined to Britain, has upped its offer for Virgin to £930 million ($1.64bn; €1.35bn). The previous bid of £817m was rejected by minority shareholders late last year [WAMN: 08-Dec-06], after they claimed it "undervalued" the business.

The telco's colourful founder Sir Richard Branson, who controls 72% of the stock, has now apparently agreed to offer those same investors another 12 pence a share on top of the 360 pence they would receive from NTL.

Branson will fund his portion of the minority offer by taking 10% to 20% of NTL's offer in cash, rather than stock, reports say.

Should the deal go ahead, the new business would be re-branded under the Virgin name, creating a media giant with some 10m customers offering a 'quadruple' play of TV, telephony, internet and cellphone services.

NTL is currently merging with the UK's other main cable company, Telewest, also US-headquartered but operating solely in Britain.

A statement from Virgin Mobile says: "Following a revised approach from NTL, Virgin Mobile is in preliminary discussions with NTL which may or may not lead to a formal offer being made for the entire issued share capital of Virgin Mobile."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff