Virgin Media Still Targeted For Acquisition: Report

Another Sunday paper, another unattributed report. The Observer says it’s seen “Project Coaxial” – an awkwardly-named private document indicating private equity houses Blackstone, Cinven, KKR and Providence Equity are preparing a $6 billion to $7.5 billion offer for Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED). The quad-play broadband/TV/telephony provider was the subject of an offer last year from Carlyle Group, but the group withdrew amid turbulent credit markets. What’s changed since then? CEO Steve Burch quit and Virgin was floating under acting chief Neil Berkett for six months, but Berkett has pared down and refocused the company on broadband during his interim stint – a move given a vote of confidence with Berkett’s full appointment last week.

Like Global’s bid for GCap, it could be a smash-and-grab raid while the target’s down – VMED’s share price has scarcely been so low since the bad ‘ol days of nt:hell. Paying for the company’s travails, Virgin execs are missing out on big bonuses; Berkett missing a top-up equal to hit £450,000 salary.