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NTL ups bid for Virgin

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NTL's buy-out is back on again - well, for the time being at least. Late on Friday NTL - which has already been cleared to swallow the UK's number two cableco Telewest - upped its offer for the mobile business in a deal reported to be worth £930m.

According to reports, NTL is prepared to cough up 372p a share to Virgin Mobile's minority shareholders with Sir Richard Branson agreeing to accept a lower amount for his 72 per cent stake of the business.

In December NTL's £817m bid for the cellco was "unanimously rejected" by the board of Virgin Mobile who claimed it "undervalued" the business. It remains to be seen whether this improved offer satisfies the demands of those who've obstructed the deal so far.

But in a statement Virgin Mobile said: "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."

Should the deal go ahead the new business would be rebranded under the Virgin livery creating a media giant with some ten million punters offering TV, fixed line phone, internet and mobile services under one roof. Coupled with NTL's take-over of cableco Telewest as well, the enlarged group would make a sizeable rival to Sky's satellite service. ®

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