Goldman Sachs enters Virgin Media sale arena

Cable operator Virgin Media is understood to have appointed Goldman Sachs to seek a possible buyer after receiving approaches from a number of private equity firms.

Carlyle Group is understood to have offered more than $10bn (£5bn) to buy the cable operator whose largest shareholder is Richard Branson. The group has been valued at $8bn (£4bn) but also has £6.1bn of long-term debt.

The cable company rebranded in February this year from NTL:Telewest. It formed following the merger of NTL and Telewest last year and the subsequent acquisition of Branson’s Virgin Mobile. It has about 15.3m subscribers to its services, which cover cable TV, telephone, broadband and mobile phone.

In its short history, the company has caused controversy after becoming embroiled in a battle with its pay-TV rival BSkyB. Virgin claims that Sky used its alleged marketing dominance to drive up the price of its basic channels. Virgin dropped the channels in February after negotiations broke down.

A group including Blackstone Group, Cinven and Providence Equity Partners tried to buy Virgin Media last year but it is understood that its offer was too low.

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