Virgin refutes content business sale speculation

LONDON - Virgin Media has denied fresh speculation that it is mulling the sale of its content business, which includes Virgin1 owner Virgin Media TV and its 50% stake in UKTV.

Dave: Virgin Media TV has a 50% stake in the UKTV channel
Dave: Virgin Media TV has a 50% stake in the UKTV channel

According to a report in today's Financial Times, senior Virgin Media executives have held talks about a possible sale so that the cable company can focus solely on being a communications provider.

The report said that no buyer has been found, although the company is open to offers.

Virgin Media declined to comment.

Speculation over a sale of Virgin Media's content business has been active for some time. Earlier this year, the BBC was reported to have been searching for a partner to buy out Virgin Media's 50% stake in UKTV. It had been rumoured that the BBC approached NBC Universal, Sony and private equity backers.

Earlier this week, Virgin Media ended a 20-month dispute with BSkyB over the carriage of their respective channels on each other's TV platforms.

Analysts saw the move as increasing the value of Virgin's content business while also increasing the likelihood of it retaining the operation. Virgin said that it expects this agreement to result in increased payments for its Virgin Media TV (VMTV) channels business of at least £24m per year.

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