Two of the world's communications giants have agreed to merge their UK operations. Liberty Global
will combine its Virgin Media UK broadband network with Telefonica
's O2 UK mobile business. The 50-50 joint venture values O2 at £12.7 billion and Virgin Media at £18.7 billion.
The resulting fixed-line and mobile communications business will have a total of 46 million video, broadband and mobile subscribers. Virgin Media’s mobile traffic will be migrated to Telefonica UK's network.
In 2016, a bid by Hutchison Whampoa to merge its Three UK network
with O2 in the UK was blocked by the European Commission on competition grounds.
Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, Telefonica’s Chief Executive Officer, said "Combining O2's number one mobile business with Virgin Media’s superfast broadband network and entertainment services will be a game-changer in the UK, at a time when demand for connectivity has never been greater or more critical. We are creating a strong competitor with significant scale and financial strength to invest in UK digital infrastructure and give millions of consumer, business and public sector customers more choice and value. This is a proud and exciting moment for our organisations, as we create a leading integrated communications provider in the UK."
Liberty Global and Telefonica expect the deal to be completed around mid-2021, subject to regulatory approval and other conditions being met.