Virgin Media heads for UK share listing

David Hellier
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CABLE operator Virgin Media said yesterday it would launch a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange to widen its appeal to British and European investors.<br /><br />The move, which will allow investors to buy the stock in sterling, sent its shares up 5.8 per cent at $13.12 (&pound;8.26) on the Nasdaq exchange in New York.<br /><br />Virgin Media shares are likely to start trading in London on Thursday, following approval from the Financial Services Authority and the London Stock Exchange, the company said. Virgin Media, which conducts all its business in Britain, has been mulling a secondary London listing for some time.<br /><br />It inherited its Nasdaq listing from cable firm NTL, which merged with two other companies and was rebranded Virgin Media after the cable groups merged with Sir Richard Branson&rsquo;s Virgin Mobile.<br /><br />Chief executive Neil Berkett said the group wasn&rsquo;t embarking on the additional listing as a means of raising capital.&nbsp; &ldquo;We believe this will enhance our profile among the key financial audiences in the UK and in Europe,&rdquo; he said yesterday.<br /><br />Virgin Media is not issuing new shares as part of the London listing, but the move will allow existing shares to be bought and sold in sterling through the London market via depository interest notes.<br /><br />Virgin, which is being advised by Goldman Sachs, said it had decided the time was right to launch the secondary listing following several quarters of &ldquo;robust&rdquo; trading despite the economic downturn, and support from British and European institutional investors.<br /><br />Virgin Media said its primary listing would continue to be the Nasdaq. Less than 10 per cent of Virgin Media investors are currently registered in&nbsp; the UK although the group would like to see that increase, as British investors are more likely to understand the company and the market.<br /><br />As the UK&rsquo;s major cable operator, Virgin Media competes with satellite operator BSkyB, BTVision and Top-Up TV for the provision of broadband and pay television services.