Virgin Media takeover gets green light from Europe

Summary:The $23.3bn takeover of Virgin Media by Liberty Global has got the go ahead from the European Commission.

The European Commission has cleared the takeover of Virgin Media by Liberty Global.

US media company Liberty Global announced its plans to take over Virgin Media in February, offering $23.3bn in a cash and stock deal.

The purchase will bring together the UK's third biggest broadband company, with Europe's largest cable company, operating across 10 EU member states. According to Liberty Global, the merged company will cover 25 million broadband customers in 47 million homes, and will target future growth in B2B and mobility offerings.

"The Commission's investigation confirmed that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties operate cable networks in different Member States and because of the merged entity's limited market position in the wholesale of TV channels in the UK and Ireland," the EC said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Commission particularly looked into whether there would be competition concerns around the pay TV market – Virgin Media is the UK's second largest player behind Sky.

"The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not restrict competition in these [European] markets because TV content is licensed mainly on a national basis or for linguistically homogeneous areas and because the merged entity would still face sufficient competitive constraint from other players, such as TV content providers and competing Pay TV retailers," the EC added.

Post-acquisition, Liberty Global will continue to use the Virgin Media brand and will redomicile from Delaware to the UK. It's also considering a European stock market listing at some point in the future.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

Topics: Networking, EU, United Kingdom


Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

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