Branson seeks to break ntl-Virgin impasse

ntl Virgin logos

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Mobile on Friday announced it was back in talks with UK cable operator ntl over an improved 360p-per-share offer for the mobile operator. In a brief statement released after the London Stock Exchange closed, Virgin Mobile said that "following a revised approach from ntl, Virgin Mobile is in preliminary discussions with ntl which may or may not lead to a formal offer being made for the entire issued share capital of Virgin Mobile".

Before Christmas ntl offered 323p for each share in Virgin Mobile—72% owned by Branson. That bid was rejected by Virgin Mobile's minority shareholders who demanded a higher offer.

According to the Financial Times, Branson is ready to dip into his own pockets to break the impase over the sale of Virgin Mobile to ntl, which wants to launch a 'quadruple play' of fixed and mobile telecommunications, plus digital television and high-speed internet, bundled under the Virgin brand name.

Though ntl offered 360p per share, minority shareholders opting for cash will receive 372p a share with the extra 12p financed by Branson, said the FT.

Lovelace Consulting  |  16.01.2006

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