Biggest Media Acquisition in Six Years Makes John Malone's Liberty as Big as the World's Largest Cable Company Bloomberg

In the biggest media acquisition since 2007, John Malone's Liberty Global has agreed to buy British cable-television provider Virgin Media, Bloomberg reports.

The $16 billion cash and stock deal sets up a challenge by Malone to Rupert Murdoch in Europe's biggest pay-television market, as we reported yesterday.

The deal "puts Liberty Global in a dead heat with Comcast Corp. as the world’s biggest cable company, and opens a new battleground with billionaire Murdoch, whose News Corp. controls British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. Malone is using Liberty Global to grow in markets outside the U.S. and already runs pay-TV providers in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland," the story reports.

Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities in Denver, commented in a phone interview for the report: “It’s an attractive transaction for Liberty Global. The number of shares issued with the deal is a little higher than some people might have expected, but there are decent programming synergies. Virgin’s a good asset, and I think the deal makes it even better.”

Bloomberg calls the deal “the biggest purchase of a media company since the $17.4 billion merger that created Thomson Reuters Corp., announced in May 2007.”