Log in
Lost password
Become a member for free
Sign up
Sign up
Dynamic quotes 

4-Traders Homepage  >  News  >  Business Leaders  >  All news

Business Leaders

Latest NewsCompaniesMarketsEconomy & ForexCommoditiesHot NewsMost Read NewsRecomm.Business LeadersVideosCalendar 
HomeAll newsMost read newsBusiness Leaders Biography 
Birthday : 03/11/1931
Place of birth : Melbourne - Australia
Biography : Mr. Keith R. Murdoch is Executive Co-Chairman at News Corp., Executive Chairman at News Corp. Austra

Malone eyes Virgin Media in challenge to Murdoch

02/05/2013 | 06:44am US/Eastern

John Malone's Liberty Global has opened talks with Britain's Virgin Media over a takeover that would increase the U.S. cable group's dominance in Europe and step up a challenge to media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Virgin Media, the No. 2 pay-TV group in Britain behind Murdoch's satellite group BSkyB, has a valuation including debt of around $20 billion.

A deal would give Liberty entry to one of Europe's biggest telecom markets and allow it to apply lessons learned as a pay-TV and broadband provider in 11 other European countries.

Malone's Liberty could offer one of the sternest challenges to Murdoch as cable groups across the region start to assert their authority over traditional telecoms firms with the offer of super-fast broadband and pay-television.

Malone, whose group has 19.6 million customers, came up against Murdoch a decade ago when Murdoch's News Corp. and Liberty Media vied for control of DirecTV Group, the largest U.S. satellite TV broadcaster.

The stand-off ended when both sides backed off. News Corp. sold its one-third stake in DirecTV to Malone's group and Malone sold 16 percent of News Corp. that Liberty had acquired, giving the Murdochs fuller control over News Corp.

Buying Britain's second-biggest pay-TV company would put Malone up against Murdoch's satellite group BSkyB, which leads the British pay-TV market with 10.7 million customers compared with Virgin's 4.9 million.

It could also leave the combined group weighed down with heavier debts.

Virgin Media's bonds widened and the cost of insuring its debt rose on expectations that more debt would have to be raised to finance a deal. It is also rated higher than Liberty Global, which could impact its credit profile.

Virgin Media's main listing is in the United States but it has a smaller one in London, where the shares were up 14 percent in early trading.

News Corp owns 39 percent of BSkyB. Murdoch tried to buy the rest in 2010 but had to drop the $12 billion bid due to public outrage over a phone hacking scandal. Shares in BSkyB were down 1 percent against a FTSE 100 Index which was up 0.3 percent.

Virgin Media, which confirmed the talks with Liberty in a brief statement, has a market value of $10.6 billion and $9 billion of debt.

It made its first annual profit in 2011 after a turnaround engineered by Chief Executive Neil Berkett and a takeover could make Virgin more aggressive in the British market. Virgin reports its 2012 results on Wednesday.

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

Analysts at Espirito Santo said they believed a fair enterprise value for Virgin Media would be around $24 billion, although they questioned how Liberty would pay for it.

Espirito put Liberty's net debt at 5 times its core earnings.


Virgin Media was formed by the merger of cable groups Telewest and NTL and mobile operator Virgin Mobile in 2006. It uses the brand of Richard Branson's Virgin Group and the British entrepreneur retains a 3 percent stake.

The company sells cable TV, telephony and broadband and also competes with a television service from BT called BT Vision and online offerings such as Lovefilm.

Its biggest shareholders are Capital World Investors which own 14.6 percent and Capital Research Global Investors which own 10.9 percent, according to Reuters data.

Virgin Media spent the first few years of its existence engaged in a long legal with BSkyB over access to content.

Berkett shunned that approach after he took over in 2008, settling the dispute and slowly building up Virgin Media's customer base by focusing on a superior broadband offering.

Its share price has responded in turn, soaring almost 160 percent since March 2008.

A deal to become part of the wider Liberty group would not necessarily result in huge synergies because there are few links between cable networks in different countries, but it could help produce savings in buying equipment.

Liberty has recently increased its stake in Belgian operator Telenet to 58 percent and owns other consumer brands across Europe including UPC, Unitymedia, Kabel BW and VTR.

It also owns a content and channels group called Chellomedia.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Additional reporting by Josie Cox; Editing by James Davey and Tom Pfeiffer)

By Kate Holton

Stocks treated in this article : Liberty Global Inc., Virgin Media Inc.
React to this article
Latest news about Rupert Murdoch 
11/19DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Video Ads Like Facebook's 'Not Really Earning Anybody's Attention'
11/18DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Elisabeth Murdoch Launching Mobile Video Company Vertical Networks
09/29DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Fox Says Value of Rupert Murdoch's Pay Fell in Final Year as CEO
09/29DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Fox Says Value of Rupert Murdoch's Pay Fell in Final Year as CEO
09/01DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Rupert Murdoch's Pay Falls at News Corp
08/28 RUPERT MURDOCH : Prosecutor seeks to summon Murdoch in Deutsche Bank trial
08/05DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Fox Reports Better-Than-Expected Earnings
07/17DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Fox Details Pay for James, Lachlan Murdoch
06/25 RUPERT MURDOCH : James Murdoch says family is united as he takes helm of Fox
06/17DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Murdoch Succession Plan Means New Bosses for Ailes
06/16 RUPERT MURDOCH : Chase Carey to stay at Fox to advise newly promoted Murdoch sons
06/16DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Rupert Murdoch to End Fox CEO Duties July 1--2nd Update
06/16DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Rupert Murdoch to End Fox CEO Duties July 1
06/11 RUPERT MURDOCH : Rupert Murdoch to hand Fox CEO title to son James
06/11DJRUPERT MURDOCH : Rupert Murdoch Positions Sons to Lead Fox
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10Next

Most Read News 
11/20 STEVE JOBS : Laurene Powell Jobs backs Amplify education company bought from News Corp
11/24DJR. JOHNSON : BlackBerry Executive Eric Johnson Leaves Company
11/25 PHILIP GREEN : Philip Green's Arcadia sees pre-Christmas sales fall
11/23 CARL ICAHN : Icahn takes stake in Xerox, calls shares 'undervalued'
11/23 JACK MA : Alibaba's Jack Ma seeking stake in SCMP publisher - Bloomberg
11/20DJPETER NICHOLAS : Hillary Clinton to Propose Middle-Class Tax Cuts--Update
11/23 DONALD TRUMP : Republican Trump calls Pfizer deal to move tax base overseas 'disgusting'
More news

Popular Business Leaders 
William Ackman Jean-michel Aulas Ernesto Bertarelli Luc Besson Vincent Bolloré Martin Bouygues Warren Buffett Paul Desmarais David Einhorn Albert Frère Bill Gates Philip Green Carl Icahn Steve Jobs Li Ka-shing Arnaud Lagardère Robert Louis-dreyfus Maurice Lévy Lakshmi Mittal Rupert Murdoch Xavier Niel Nelson Peltz Ferdinand Piëch Ted Rogers Johann Rupert Carlos Slim George Soros Ratan Tata Donald Trump Alain Weill
A-Z Business Leaders