UK cable group ntl will take on the Virgin brand name if its £810m takeover approach for Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Mobile is successful.
ntl, which announced a $6bn takeover of Telewest in October, today confirmed it had made an approach to Virgin Mobile, the UK's largest mobile virtual network operator, majority owned by Branson's Virgin Group. Since its launch in 1999 the operator—which leases network capacity from T-Mobile—has attracted more than 4m customers.
The combined ntl-Telewest-Virgin Mobile business would be able to offer customers a 'quadruple play' of digital television, fixed and mobile telephony, plus high-speed internet access, further challenging the dominance of players such as BT in telecommunications and BSkyB in pay-TV.
Virgin Mobile—72% owned by Branson's Virgin Group—said it was considering ntl's offer of 0.09298 shares of ntl common stock per share of Virgin Mobile as well as a full cash alternative at 323p per share.
ntl said Virgin Group had verbally assured ntl that if the takeover of Virgin Mobile went ahead it would exhange its stake in the mobile operator for a stake in the enlarged ntl group.
ntl already has a licence agreement with Virgin Enterprises for the exclusive use of the Virgin brand in broadband. ntl said it was now in discussions with Virgin Enterprises "to extend that licence to cover television and fixed line and mobile telephony".
"If the proposed combination with Virgin Mobile and the licence agreement are completed, ntl intends to use the Virgin brand to offer a quadruple play of internet, television and fixed line and mobile telephony," said the cable operator.
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