Former Murdoch exec takes reins at Virgin Media

VIRGIN Media has hired News International’s former head as its new chief executive, in a move that will pit him against his old employer Rupert Murdoch.

The cable operator announced yesterday that Tom Mockridge will take over from departing boss Neil Berkett as soon as Liberty Global completes its $23.3bn (£15bn) takeover of Virgin Media.

Mockridge left News Int in December, after he was snubbed as head of parent firm News Corporation’s new publishing company.

Murdoch’s News Corp will form two units later this year, splitting its newspaper and book publishing assets from the firm’s film and TV interests – which include a 39 per cent stake in Virgin Media’s arch-rival BSkyB.

Mockridge, 58, had expected to be made head of the publishing firm, but Murdoch handed the role to Wall Street Journal managing director Robert Thomson. Mockridge – who was also Sky’s deputy chairman – said at the time he was leaving to “pursue other opportunities” after more than two decades at News Corp.

Liberty Global’s takeover, which will see chairman John Malone reignite his long battle with Murdoch, is due to be signed off in June.