With the company still planning to provide the best Virgin Media Broadband Deals to UK households, the European Commission has given a green flag to Liberty Global’s £15 billion deal for overtaking Virgin Media TV and that too without any conditions.
Liberty Global is one of the most established and widely-spread cable digital TV operators in Europe; while Virgin Media, on the other hand, would be in second place if the pay TV operators in the United Kingdom are ranked. The European Union said that the deal raises no immediate competition concerns and, thus, is definitely a go.
The Virgin Media deal is likely to strengthen Liberty Global’s position against the top UK digital pay-TV operator, BskyB. Rupert Murdoch News Corporation, owner of The Wall Street Journal, holds a 39.1% stake in BskyB and is the largest shareholder of the pay-TV provider. This deal will, as a result, bring Liberty Global and BSkyB neck-to-neck with each other.
According to the European Commission, Europe’s anti-trust watchdog, the deal is still subject to majority approval from all the shareholders, who are contemplating over the deal and are yet to come to a conclusion. According to a report, the shareholder meetings and closing transactions will be held in the second quarter this year.
In this deal, Neil Berkett, the CEO of Virgin Media, will walk away with a windfall gain of over £41.5m, while the owner of the Virgin Empire, Richard Branson, who owns a 3% stake in the company, will gain only £196m from the sale.
The European Commission said in its review that all the aspects of TV content acquisition have been taken into account. The UK, Ireland and European Economic Area on the whole have been investigated, along with the vertical links between the activities of Liberty Global in the wholesale supply of digital TV channels before giving a green signal to the deal.
Liberty Global provides digital TV, broadband and home/ business phone services in over 10 European countries, except the United Kingdom. Telenet Group Holding NV, UPC and UnityMedia are some of the top brands of Liberty Global. The company also produces and supplies wholesale TV channels to the UK TV operators through its Chellomedia content division. On the other hand, Virgin Media is the owner and operator of cable TV, broadband and telephone service in the UK.
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