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NTL Poised to Acquire Virgin Mobile

The UK's largest cable operator, ntl group ltd. (Nasdaq: NTLI), looks set to win over Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd. this week, paving the way for it to offer a "quadruple play" of services.

According to press reports, Virgin's board is finally prepared to accept NTL's revised bid of 372 pence per share -- after rejecting its earlier offer of 323 pence. (See Source: NTL Sweetens Virgin Offer.) The bid values Virgin at more than £900 million. ($1.6 billion). Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson is reportedly taking 349 pence for his 71.3 percent stake to appease shareholders who thought the initial bid was too low.

The Financial Times notes that Virgin's management team, including CEO Tom Alexander, will stay on after the acquisition and manage Virgin as a separate entity within NTL.

A spokesman for Virgin declined to comment and NTL had not responded to requests for comment as this article was published.

The deal comes during a period of transition for NTL. The company is in the process of integrating rival cable operator Telewest Global Inc. (Nasdaq: TWSTY) and expects to complete the merger next month. (See NTL, Telewest Move Closer and NTL & Telewest: Together at Last!.) The company is particularly keen to add mobile services to its voice, video, and data offering as it battles BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and satellite operator Sky , both of which plan to have triple-play packages on offer this year.

Shares in Virgin were trading at 369.75 pence, up 0.75 pence (0.20%) on the London Stock Exchange , while NTL's stock was down 19 cents (0.29%) to $64.29 on the Nasdaq .

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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