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Virgin Media looks set to expand into continental Europe, despite difficulties with its UK operation.

According to The Times, the Virgin Group, which controls the Virgin Media brand, is in talks with French cable company Numéricable to license the name.

Numéricable is France's largest cable operator, covering about nine million households, and currently offers a triple-play of broadband, TV, and and fixed line phone. Virgin Mobile launched in France in 2005 using Orange's network and would presumably be rolled in to bundling deals.

After its ritzy rebrand last year, the Branson halo effect on NTL:Telewest has been dimmed on this side of the Channel by continuing disappointing results, the dispute with BSkyB, and boardroom wrangling over a private equity sellout. An auction has been put on hold indefinitely over jitters in the debt markets which power private equity deals.

The Virgin Group is staying schtum about its European plans. ®

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