Murdochs Support Liberty Global Buying Virgin Media, Fries Says
Rupert Murdoch and his family, facing a new rival in the U.K. pay-TV market as Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA) works on completing its Virgin Media Inc. (VMED) purchase, supports the acquisition by its competitor, Liberty Global’s chief executive officer said.
Mike Fries, head of the cable giant expanding in the U.K., said he has spoken with Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, and that they are supportive of the transaction. The Murdochs understand the competitive nature of business, Fries said today at the Cable Congress in London.
Liberty Global, controlled by billionaire John Malone, agreed to buy cable-television provider Virgin Media for $16 billion last month to challenge the Murdochs’ British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY) in Europe’s biggest pay-TV market.
Fries said Englewood, Colorado-based Liberty Global isn’t planning to bid for sports rights against BSkyB. His company’s merger with Virgin Media will be a “powerful combination,” Fries said.
“Virgin media is a great asset, a great brand and it has a confident management team,” Fries said. “The U.K. market has gotten bad rap but we think it’s a good time to be in this market.”
A spokeswoman for News Corp. (NWSA), the Murdoch-led company that controls BSkyB, had no immediate comment.
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