Liberty Global buys Virgin Media for $23.3bn

Less than 24 hours after talks between the two parties were confirmed, US cable giant Liberty Global has bought Virgin Media in a blockbuster deal worth $23.3 billion (£14.8bn).

The deal appears to have been finalised overnight, according to The Telegraph, with Virgin Media investors set to receive $47.87 a share (£30.59) - $17.50 (£11.17) in cash and the rest in Liberty Global stock.

News of the discussions between Virgin and Liberty broke yesterday, prompting shares of the popular UK pay-TV provider to jump by some 14 per cent.

By mid-afternoon, Virgin had confirmed that discussions regarding a "possible transaction" were ongoing, though in public at least the firm's investor base remained cautious about the prospective £14 billion takeover.

Insisting that a deal "would be a surprise," one influential Virgin insider said that any takeover would have to feature a "decent premium" to gain shareholder approval.

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"This is a strong, cash generative company. We still think that [£14bn] is very cheap. Even with today's price jump – it is still very cheap," the investor commented to the Telegraph at the time.

Now that Liberty has assumed control of Virgin Media, the stage is set for renewed hostilities between Sky's Rupert Murdoch and Liberty's billionaire owner John Malone.

The pair famously clashed when they were competing for control of US satellite broadcaster DirecTV in the early-Noughties.

At present, Virgin Media is thought to have debts of more than £10 million and its 4.9 million pay-TV customers trail Sky's 10.7 million users by some distance.

In addition to pay-TV, Virgin Media's operations include VoD, fibre-optic broadband, and MVNO services.

It has been a busy start to the week in the world of big business, with Michael Dell's spectacular $24.4 billion (£15.5 billion) buy-back of Dell Inc dominating the headlines yesterday.