Virgin Media has confirmed that it is in discussions with Liberty Global
US billionaire John Malone’s cable group, Liberty Global, is in talks with Virgin Media about a possible deal with Richard Branson’s UK cable company.
Virgin confirmed that the two sides are talking about a “possible transaction”.
The Financial Times reported that Liberty is lining up a potential takeover of Virgin, behind BSkyB as the UK’s second biggest pay-TV business.
A deal would pitch Mr Malone in direct competition with Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire owns 39% of BSkyB.
The two mens’ business interests clashed a decade ago when Mr Murdoch’s News Corp and Liberty Media vied for control of DirecTV Group, the largest US satellite TV broadcaster.
Mr Branson’s company said in a statement: “Virgin Media confirms that it is in discussions with Liberty Global, a leading international cable company, concerning a possible transaction.”
BSkyB leads the UK pay-TV market with 10.7 million customers compared with Virgin’s 4.9 million.
Virgin Media’s main listing is in the US but it has a smaller one in London, where the shares were up 14% at midday. BSkyB shares were down 1%.