Liberty Buying Virgin Media For $16 Billion

The cash and stock deal announced late Tuesday creates a company that will provide stiffer competition in the U.K. to satellite TV provider BSkyB, in which Liberty owner John Malone's rival Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns a 40% stake.
Associated Press,

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Liberty Global Inc., the cable TV operator owned by media mogul John Malone, is buying U.K.-based Virgin Media Inc. in a deal valued at $16 billion.

The cash and stock deal announced late Tuesday creates a company that will provide stiffer competition in the U.K. to satellite TV provider BSkyB, in which Malone's rival Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns a 40 percent stake.

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Liberty Global and Virgin Media said tie-up will create a broadband communications company covering 47 million homes and with 25 million customers in 14 countries.

Liberty Global has pay-TV operations around the world and is the largest cable operator in most of its 11 European markets.

Liberty Global's CEO Mike Fries said that after the deal, about 80 percent of the company's revenue will come from five countries: the U.K., Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The two companies said they had combined revenue of $16.8 billion last year.

Virgin Media is the second-biggest pay TV company in the U.K. after BSkyB, or British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC. Virgin Group boss Richard Branson — a multibillionaire, like Malone and Murdoch — still holds a minority stake.

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The companies said the transaction is equal to $47.87 per Virgin Media share. That's about a 24 percent premium on the closing price of Virgin Media's U.S.-traded stock on Monday.

The stock surged almost 18 percent Tuesday to close at $45.61 after the company said it was in acquisition talks with Liberty Global.

Liberty Global will remain based in Englewood, Colo., while Virgin Media will continue to operate under its namesake brand in the U.K.

Virgin Media shareholders are set to get about 36 percent of Liberty Global's outstanding shares and about 26 percent of the voting rights, the companies said.

They added that they expect about $180 million in annual costs savings once they are fully combined. They didn't say whether any of their employees will be laid off as part of the cost cutting. More details about the companies' plan could emerge during a management conference call scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday.

Liberty Global also said it plans to buy back about $3.5 billion worth of its shares over a two-year period after the Virgin Media deal is closed.

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 22, 2016
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    4.0/14
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    1.7/6
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    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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