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Virgin Media receives Carlyle Group offer

British telecommunications company Virgin Media Inc. confirmed Monday it received a buyout offer, following reports that private-equity firm the Carlyle Group had bid more than $11 billion.
/ Source: The Associated Press

British telecommunications company Virgin Media Inc. confirmed Monday it received a buyout offer, following reports that private-equity firm the Carlyle Group had bid more than $11 billion.

Virgin Media did not disclose the price of the offer, and said that the proposal stipulates that it would be withdrawn if the terms were disclosed.

An earlier report by Dow Jones Newswires, quoting people familiar with the matter, said Washington-based Carlyle offered between $33 and $35 per share.

Virgin said in a statement that “there is no assurance that any transaction will occur or, if so, at what price.” The New York-based company added that it does not plan to comment further until a deal is reached or the offer is dropped.

Virgin, the byproduct of a number of mergers, including the former cable operators NTL Inc. and Telewest and the mobile operator Virgin Mobile, reported its seventh consecutive quarterly loss in May after subscribers defected to rival BSkyB.

Virgin Media lost customers earlier this year when it stopped airing basic BSkyB channels, dropping popular programs such as “Lost,” “24,” and “The Simpsons,” as the result of a battle over fees during negotiations to renew a distribution agreement.

BSkyB has long dominated pay TV in Britain, accounting for around 70 percent of the country’s pay-TV subscribers. But the arrival of Virgin Media has threatened a shake-up of the status quo, and relations between the two have become increasingly rancorous.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson is the largest shareholder in Virgin Media with a 10.5 percent stake. He also licenses the Virgin name to the company and gets paid for promotional appearances.