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What a Liberty: Virgin Media in buyout talks with telecoms giant

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Virgin Media confirmed this morning that it is in buyout talks with cable giant Liberty Global.

In a brief statement to the City ahead of it full-year results tomorrow, Virgin Media announced:

Virgin Media confirms that it is in discussions with Liberty Global, Inc., a leading international cable company, concerning a possible transaction.

Any such transaction would be subject to regulatory and other conditions. A further announcement will be made in due course.

Shares in the telco jumped nearly 15 per cent to 2,825 pence on the London Stock Exchange immediately after VM, which is headed up by Neil Berkett, confirmed that it was talking to Liberty Global.

Virgin Media's market value is close to $10.4bn on Nasdaq and £7.8bn on the LSE. Reports suggested that its enterprise value could be as high as $20bn (roughly £12bn).

Englewood, Colorado-based Liberty Global operates in 13 countries and has about 20 million subscribers to its television, broadband and telephony products on its books. Most of its customers are in Europe.

The cable provider is run by billionaire John Malone and is the second biggest telco in the world behind US-based Comcast.

This isn't the first time Virgin Media has sought potential telecoms suitors. In 2007 - one year after the then debt-ridden telco was rebranded following NTL's merger with Telewest, Virgin.net and Virgin Mobile - the company hired investment bankers to canvass "strategic buyers" including Liberty Global in what was described at the time as a defensive move to see off private equity carpetbaggers.

Liberty Group has come sniffing around Virgin Media nearly a year to the day since the Hook, England-based ISP finally turned an annual profit. ®

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