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Virgin Media piles Cable and Wireless sandbags

Huffy manoeuvres

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Virgin Media attempted to win back some shareholder and media confidence late yesterday, by announcing a deal with Cable and Wireless to offer LLU ADSL for areas outside its cable network.

Virgin already has some ADSL customers off its own network, but an LLU(Local Loop Unbundling) deal is key to delivering a bundle at a price similar to cable. Virgin told The Reg that the deal won't be ready to offer access until the fourth quarter of this year.

In a regulatory filing in the US, also yesterday, Virgin said it had reduced the size of its board, burning one of the three seats controlled by William Huff, amid rumours of a power struggle between him and other large shareholders. The move resulted from a shareholder meeting in New York yesterday, where concerns that Huff held too much sway over the board were aired.

Huff, who holds under six per cent of Virgin Media, was the driving force behind the merger of NTL and Telewest last year. Huff now controls two seats, and Branson's 11 per cent stake one seat. Franklin Resources, the second largest investor, has no board member.

The Cable and Wireless deal has been bubbling for a while, but Virgin has had a tough couple of weeks, delivering poor results, being summoned by its largest sharholders, and generally taking a kicking in the press.

Virgin hopes that the tie-up, which runs until 2011, will help it retain customers when they move house off the cable network. Virgin has previously said it hopes to roll out IPTV to its Off-net customers so it can offer the full quad play of broadband, mobile, fixed line, and pay-TV to everyone. ®

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