EC approves Liberty Global’s Virgin Media deal

US cable giant Liberty Global’s $15.8bn (£10.3bn) acquisition of the Virgin Media brand has received unconditional regulatory approval to go ahead, giving the group more firepower to take on BSkyB in the UK.

Virgin Media
Mo Farah signed with Virgin Media to become its brand ambassador in August.

The European Commission said it did not have any competition concerns about the takeover because the companies operate cable networks in different European countries without much overlap.

It also said the merged group would still have a limited presence in the wholesale of TV channels in the UK and Ireland, meaning it would be unlikely to shut out rival pay TV retailers by withholding its channels from them.

A statement from the EC continues: “Similarly, it is unlikely the merged entity would shut out competing TV channel broadcasters from access to the retail pay TV market, given the number of alternative distribution platforms to Virgin Media’s cable network (e.g. BSkyB’s satellite platform) and the importance of offering a large variety of TV channels in order to attract Pay TV subscribers.”

The merged entity will serve 25 million customers in 14 countries and will help grow the Virgin Media brand, both in the UK and across Europe.

Virgin Media’s chief executive Neil Berkett will now step down from the company, making way for a new – as yet unannounced – leader.

It is understood Virgin Media’s marketing team, led by the recently installed Jeff Dodds, will remain intact.

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