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Liberty Global takes on the UK firm to become the world's largest broadband business

Virgin Media sold for $23.3bn

Liberty Global has agreed to buy Virgin Media, which will make the firm the largest broadband company in the world.

Owned by US billionaire John Malone, Liberty Global has agreed to take on the UK provider in a cash and stock deal worth £23.3bn (£15bn)

The deal will leave Liberty Global with 25 million customers in 14 countries, making it the world’s largest broadband firm.

Mike Fries, chief executive of Liberty Global, said: "Adding Virgin Media to our large and growing European operations is a natural extension of the value creation strategy we’ve been successfully using for over seven years."

Once the deal is given final shareholder and regulatory approval, it will put the firm in close competition with Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation media empire owns 39 per cent of rival UK firm BSkyB.

Virgin Media was formed in 2006 following the merger of NTL, Telewest and Virgin Mobile, which was owned by Sir Richard Branson.

BSkyB continues to dominate the UK’s paid TV market with its 10.7 million customers, which greatly outmatches Virgin Media’s 4.9 million.

Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media, said: "The combined company will be able to grow faster and deliver enhanced returns by capitalising on the exciting opportunities that the digital revolution presents, both in the UK and across Europe."

Today’s deal will leave Branson with a 3 per cent stake in the company, which will continue to maintain its 30-year brand licensing agreement with the Virgin Group.

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