NTL Inc, the NASDAQ listed holding company of the combined NTL:Telewest cable television, telephony and broadband group in the UK, has completed its acquisition of Virgin Mobile. It is preparing to take on satellite broadcaster BSkyB with a quadruple-play offering operating under the Virgin brand.
Under a licensing agreement with Virgin Enterprises, the company will use the Virgin brand for its portfolio of consumer services, from some time early in 2007, if not sooner. Meanwhile Virgin Mobile will continue to operate as a separate organisation.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. “Today, we’ve created a unique organisation — a new, soon-to-be-branded Virgin company — which will offer the very finest in ‘quadruple’ — the best-value, most -exciting TV, broadband, mobile and phone services in Britain.”
“We’re entering a pioneering time,” he said, “where the worlds of media, entertainment and communications are coming together — and through our new company, our aim is to offer consumers the very best, most sought-after choice available.”
“This is a transformational deal for ntl:Telewest and good news for UK consumers,” said NTL:Telewest chief executive Steve Burch. “Virgin Mobile has a justified reputation for being one of the country’s most customer-focused companies. This combined with ntl:Telewest’s portfolio of competitively-priced, cutting edge products, will create a formidable competitor in the UK’s fast changing communications and entertainment industries.”
The combined cable company will need to address its poor reputation for customer service before it can recognise the value of the Virgin brand.
“We are no longer going to be an unloved company,” Steve Burch told the Financial Times. NTL appears confident that it can transform its operation and is seeking to develop its content business, while using video-on-demand to differentiate its cable services from its satellite competition.