Virgin Media Ireland has been put up for sale and is expected to raise around €1.5 billion
The £31 billion merger between Liberty Global’s Virgin Media and Telefonica’s UK unit O2 was given the green light by regulators earlier in May this year, set to create a converged service provider with the scale to take on incumbent BT.
However, Virgin Media’s Irish unit, itself the largest fibre provider in the Republic of Ireland, was notably left out of the merger.
This omission left Liberty Global mulling various strategies to deal with its Irish operations, suggesting back in February that the company could seek to acquire a mobile operator in the Irish market to create a similarly converged player.
“We’re going to continue to evaluate what the right long-term future for those markets is in terms of their strategic footprint and whether there’s a fixed mobile opportunity,” said Liberty Global’s chief executive Mike Fries.
Now, however, it seems that the solution will not be more M&A, but rather to simply divest of the unit altogether. The company has reportedly hired advisors from Lion Tree, a telecoms investment bank, to help find buyers for the unit, which sources suggest could be worth €1.5 billion.
Virgin Media Ireland has around 388,000 broadband subscribers and owns TV3 Group, the only commercial television broadcaster in the country, branded as Virgin Media Television.
This sale comes as the latest move in Liberty Global’s overall strategy seeking fixed–mobile convergence businesses throughout its European operations, which notably also included the acquisition of Sunrise Communications in Switzerland last year.
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