Virgin Media considers take private

A private equity consortium led by Providence Equity Partners is reportedly preparing a $15 billion bid for UK cable business Virgin Media.

US buyout firm Providence Equity Partners and a consortium of other firms are considering a $15 billion (€11 billion) bid for Virgin Media, a UK cable company, according to The Observer. The other parties in the consortium are thought to be KKR, Cinven and The Blackstone Group.

The Providence consortium attempted to take the business private in 2006 but was thwarted by hedge fund tycoon and Virgin Media shareholder Bill Huff. It is thought that Richard Branson, Virgin Media’s biggest shareholder, would make £400 million (€586 million, $788 million) from the take private.

Virgin Media was created through the recent merger of NTL, Telewest and Virgin’s mobile phone business. The company has been considering private equity ownership after it reported a decrease in customers in Q1 2007 and predictions of more losses because of a dispute with pay-TV business BSkyB.

Founded in 1990, Providence has about $21 billion under management, with offices in New York and London. It recently closed its sixth fund on $12 billion, triple the size of its previous fund, after just four months of fundraising. It has bought 56 television channels from Clear Channel Communications for $1.2 billion, and APN News & Media, an Australia-listed media business, with The Carlyle Group.