Britain’s Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) is in advanced negotiations over a possible purchase by Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA). Unnamed, insider sources told Reuters that a potential deal worth as much as $24 billion could be announced by Tuesday.
Predictably, the news send Virgin Media shares soaring, up more than 16% in Tuesday morning trading, while Liberty Global shares sank about 4%.
The acquisition of Virgin Media, which runs the second largest subscription TV service in the United Kingdom, would give Liberty, controlled by billionaire John Malone, a beachhead in a leading European market.
A deal would put Liberty into competition with BSkyB, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA). BSkyB’s pay TV service has the largest number of subscribers in Britain — 10.7 million subscribers, compared to just 4.9 million for Virgin Media.