Burch Leaves Virgin

Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED)'s CEO Steve Burch left the U.K. cable operator today and resigned from the board. (See Virgin Media CEO Steps Down.)

The operator said that Burch decided to leave for family and personal reasons and he will return to the U.S.

And who could blame him? The cable business is losing customers and money, and the mobile business, Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd. , is losing customers as well. Furthermore, the company is for sale.

Earlier this month, Virgin delayed an attempt to sell the company, citing the need for a "more stable debt market environment." Liberty Media Corp. (NYSE: LMC) and private equity firm The Carlyle Group LLC reportedly have each expressed interest in the business. (See Sky Falls on Virgin's Head, Virgin Media Extends Talks, Virgin Lures Liberty, and Carlyle Eyes Virgin.)

Things are not going well on the content side of the business either. Thanks to a licensing dispute with Sky , Virgin lost the rights to Sky's entertainment channels. These include shows like 24, Lost, and The Simpsons. BSkyB pulled this programming at the beginning of March this year, and, as a result, Virgin said it lost 40,000 customers. (See Virgin Media Slams Sky, Virgin Media Files Against Sky, and Virgin Media Reports Q1.)

Two weeks ago, Virgin Media reported second-quarter results and its eighth net loss in a row. Net loss for the quarter was £119 million (US$236 million) on revenues of £995 million ($2 billion). (See Virgin Media Reports 2Q07.)

Burch joined Virgin in January 2006. He oversaw the merger of ntl and Telewest, the acquisition of Virgin Mobile, and the rebranding of the entire business to Virgin.

In a statement, Virgin Media chairman Jim Mooney said: "Steve has contributed significantly to the transformation of Virgin Media. Since he joined us, the company has emerged as the U.K.'s only 'quad-play' provider."

Neil Berkett, Virgin's chief operating officer, will take on the role of acting CEO while the company looks for a replacement.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading

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