Virgin for Sale

Prompting a review of its ownership options following a bid from US buyout firm Carlyle Group, Virgin now has a new suitor. Let the bidding begin.
Virgin effectively put itself up for sale earlier this month after appointing Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank, to review its strategy and the possibility of a sale to Carlyle. Now Providence has revived its original consortium from last year to place a counter-bid making it a two horse race.

Last year, Providence led a group including Blackstone and KKR, which approached Virgin with an offer of about $34 a share.

Earlier this month Carlyle put a preliminary offer on the table of $30 a share, a bid that would value the company at up to £5.6bn. Including a debt of nearly £6bn gives Virgin an enterprise value of around £11.5bn.

A sale to a private equity buyer would be another major event in Virgin Media’s mixed past after a series of deals over the past few years. The drawn-out merger of NTL and Telewest finally went through in March last year before Virgin Mobile joined the fold a few months later leaving the company as the only ‘quad-play’ provider in the UK following the rebranding as Virgin Media.

Virgin Media has 3 million TV customers, 3.4 million broadband users, 4.1 million fixed-line telephony customers and 4.5 million mobile subscribers.

First round offers are expected in the next few weeks.

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