Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Pay-TV market gets a 'disruptive challenger' after Virgin takeover

Virgin Media has vowed to become a "disruptive challenger" in the pay-TV market after agreeing a £10bn takeover by US cable giant Liberty Global.

The deal marks a breakthrough into the UK market for Colorado-based billionaire investor John Malone, whose Liberty empire will span 14 countries and have 25 million customers after taking on the UK's second biggest pay-TV company.

It will make him a direct rival of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, the company which owns 39% of pay-TV market leader BSkyB and was once 18% owned by Mr Malone.

Virgin Media, which was created out of the mergers of NTL, Telewest and Virgin Mobile, employs 14,000 people in the UK.

No customer-facing jobs are expected to go under plans by Liberty Global to save $180m (£115m) across its business.

Virgin Media chief executive Neil Berkett, who will leave the company following the completion of the deal, yesterday said Virgin would become a "disruptive challenger" to its rivals, which include BT and Sky in the UK, but would not be competing for entertainment and sports rights such as Premier League football.

Mr Berkett said: "The combined company will be able to grow faster and deliver enhanced returns by capitalising on the exciting opportunities that the digital revolution presents, both in the UK and across Europe."