Virgin Media is to be bought by international cable operator Liberty Global in a deal worth £15 billion, it has been confirmed.
The combined group will be one the world's biggest broadband communications organisations and cover some 25 million customers across 14 different countries, though Virgin Media is set to retain its branding in the UK, at least for the time being.
The implied purchase price of the agreement represents an equity value of more than £10 billion, and will comprise both shares and cash, making it one of the biggest deals in UK communications history.
According to Neil Berkett, Chief Executive of Virgin Media, the company has "transformed the digital experience" of millions of customers over the last six years and helped to bring about a deep-rooted change in the UK's digital landscape.
"I’m confident that this deal will help us to build on this legacy. Virgin Media and Liberty Global have a shared ambition, focus on operational excellence and commitment to driving shareholder value," he explained.
The two organisations hope that the merger will enable them to grow faster and deliver enhanced returns, through capitalising on the opportunities the digital revolution presents both in the UK and across Europe.
According to Mike Fries, President and Chief Executive of Liberty Global, the addition of Virgin Media to its growing European operations is a "natural extension" of the value creation strategy it has been using in recent seven years.
"Virgin Media will add significant scale and a first-class management team in Europe's largest and most dynamic media and communications market. After the deal, roughly 80 per cent of Liberty Global's revenue will come from just five attractive and strong countries - the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands," he explained.
Liberty Global expects the combination to yield meaningful capital expenditure of around £120 million a year upon full integration.