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.”