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Beardie cuts Virgin Media stake

Credit Suisse takes a shave

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Richard Branson has cut his stake in Virgin Media by more than a third.

Virgin Group, Branson's investment vehicle which licences the Virgin brand to Virgin Media, now owns 6.5 per cent of the UK cable network, The Financial Times reports. It had owned 10.5 per cent.

Virgin Group transferred the shares to Credit Suisse, after using them as loan collateral in June 2007. It borrowed $224m, which it used to finance the launch of Virgin Mobile in India.

Credit Suisse has taken a heavy loss on the arrangement. In June 2007 Virgin Media shares were changing hands on Wall Street for about $25 each. They're now down at about $7, but climbing.

The loan payback isn't being interpreted as a sign Beardie might want out of Virgin Media. Virgin Group said "we remain very committed" to to the firm.

In other Beardie news, Branson will this week lecture fellow tycoons at Google's self-congratulatory, whalesong-heavy "Zeitgeist" conference in London. ®

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