Liberty Global and Virgin Media deal gets green light in Europe

US cable firm Liberty Global yesterday won unconditional EU regulatory approval for its $15.8bn (£10.3bn) takeover of US-listed Virgin Media.

The deal, announced on 6 February, pits Liberty Global against satellite TV operation BSkyB.

The European Commission said yesterday that it did not have any competition concerns regarding the takeover.

The EU antitrust authority said this was “in particular because the parties operate cable networks in different member states and because of the merged entity’s limited market position in the wholesale of TV channels in the UK and Ireland”.

The firms will still encounter competitive constraints in their respective markets after the tie-up, the Commission added.

Virgin Media chief executive Neil Berkett last month announced he would stand down once the deal is completed, ending his seven-year tenure with the company.

John Malone, Liberty Global’s controlling shareholder, has a longstanding rivalry with BSkyB owner Rupert Murdoch, clashing with the tycoon a decade ago when they fought for control of US satellite TV broadcaster DirecTV Group.

The Virgin Media deal will reinforce Liberty Global’s challenge against BSkyB, Britain’s top pay-TV provider.

Shares in Nasdaq-listed Virgin Media were little changed by the announcement, which had been expected.

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