A huge merger is reportedly in the works between Virgin and O2 to create a new media power offering TV and mobile services. This would rival Sky and BT in the UK.
Should the deal go ahead, it would combine O2’s – the UK’s largest network in the UK – 34m customers with Virgin’s 5.3m figure split across TV, broadband and mobile users.
Liberty Global, owned by Billionaire John Malone’s, owns Virgin Media and a 10% stake in ITV but it’s unclear whether the major TV channel will be included in the deal.
The firm is ITV’s biggest shareholder but the share price of the broadcaster has hit a 10-year low due to a drop in advertising revenue during coronavirus lockdown.
According to The Guardian, Liberty Global is in talks with Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, which owns O2, to combine their UK assets in a joint venture.
Telefonica said “the process started between both parties is in the negotiation phase, with no guarantee, at this point, of its precise terms or its probability of success.”
O2 was almost taken over by rival network Three, owned by Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, in 2015 but the £10.25m bid was blocked by the European Commission on competition grounds.