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Branson ready to break Virgin Mobile/NTL stalemate

Wants to do a deal

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NTL's take-over of Virgin Mobile could be back on track again even though the cellco has "unanimously" rejected the cableco's approach.

Last week Virgin Mobile rejected NTL's £817m bid for the business saying it wasn't enough. On Friday NTL responded saying £817m was a fair price representing "better value for all Virgin Mobile shareholders" giving the impression that the deal was deadlocked.

But the stalemate looks likely to be broken by Sir Richard Branson, who owns 72 per cent of the cellco. The FT reports that Branson is prepared to take a lower price for his share of the business giving NTL more room to up the amount Virgin Mobile's minority shareholders will receive.

The upshot is that NTL is unlikely to pay much more for the business than it's original offer and Virgin Mobile's minority shareholders get the higher price they've been holding out for.

And Branson? Well, the paper reports that he is angling for increased licence fee payments for NTL which plans to rebrand under the Virgin livery.

And he still gets a share of a massive media business - with some nine million punters that offers TV, phone, broadband and mobile telephony - that is better placed to rival satellite broadcaster Sky. ®

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