Malone's Liberty Global mulls Virgin bid



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Malone's Liberty Global mulls Virgin bid

US cable pioneer John Malone is weighing up the opportunity of entering the auction for UK cable operator Virgin Media. Malone, whose Liberty Media Corporation last year took control of leading US satellite broadcaster DirecTV by swapping Liberty's 16.3% stake in News Corp for its 38.5% holding in the pay-TV provider, told the Financial Times that Liberty was now "doing our homework" on a possible bid for Virgin Media.

"The UK market is big and complex and [Virgin Media] has a lot of interesting financial attributes to it," the FT quoted Malone as saying. "We have to look at it, not in a traditional way but in a quite exceptional way, perhaps with partners, perhaps in ways we'd not regard a normal cable company."

Last week Virgin Media asked buyout groups that have expressed an interest in the quad-play provider to submit offers by the first week of August. Carlyle Group has already made an offer for Virgin Media, valuing the company at $23m when long-term debt is included. Virgin Media, which has appointed a second investment bank to advise on a possible sale, is reportedly set to receive a $22bn buyout offer from US private equity groups led by Providence.

Liberty Global—Malone's non-US vehicle—has stakes in, or controls, several cable operators across Europe, Japan and Latin America. "This is probably the largest cable transaction outside of the US we're going to see in a reasonable timeframe," Malone told the FT.

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