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March 11, 2009

Virgin Media to spin off content business

The sale is expected to help the company ease its debt pile

By CBR Staff Writer

UK cable network operator Virgin Media is planning to sell its content business and has appointed UBS to advise it on the sale.

The company’s content business Virgin Media Television includes a 50% stake in cable channels business UKTV, advertising sales unit IDS, and channels such as Living and Bravo.

The sale could fetch up to GBP500m ($709m), which would help the company ease its debt pile. Last year, it announced a 15% workforce reduction, 2,200 job cuts, as part of a restructuring program.

It also announced the departure of its content business chief executive Malcolm Wall, who will leave in April. He joined the company three years ago from United Business Media where he was COO. Before that he was chief executive at ITV and Setanta.

The company’s latest move is a complete U-turn from its earlier aggressive moves into the content market, including the bid for ITV in 2006. Three years ago the company abandoned its content business spin-off, which attracted interest from Viacom, Disney, Sparrowhawk Media, and BSkyB.

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