media baron Branson takes on Murdoch, by Maria Nguyen
Media Man Australia pitched this news to B&T whilst
Virgin Star was its client
Flamboyant billionaire Sir Richard Branson will soon
be adding media baron to his name with
reports that hes set to merge his mobile phone
company Virgin Mobile with UK pay TV and telecommunications
giant NTL to create a AUD$10.4bn media and entertainment
empire that will tackle the dominance of Rupert Murdochs
British Sky Broadcasting.
is a leading UK Internet, telephone and pay TV operator
that is publicly listed in Europe and the US. The
company is expected to rebrand under the Virgin banner
as part of the AUD$10.4bn deal, that will see Branson
swap his 72% holding in Virgin Mobile for a 14% stake
in the newly merged entity, which will boast 9 million
customers and more than AUD$10bn in revenues.
will be the largest single shareholder in the new
new Virgin company will be the UKs first to
offer a quadruple bundled service of pay TV, Internet,
mobile and fixed-line telephone.
to media reports, the new group will up the ante in
the lucrative UK pay TV market and is expected to
pose a significant threat to BskyB, which is 37% owned
by Rupert Murdochs News Corporation (Branson
is already said to be determined to wrestle the Premiership
football rights way from BskyB).
Murdoch [who heads up BskyB] is going to choke on
his muesli when he hears about this one. Its
going to be the battle of the brands Virgin
versus Sky, an unnamed banker told the UKs
Sunday Telegraph newspaper on the weekend.
understood Virgin Mobile will be making an official
announcement early this week.
to home, Branson is battling it out with NSW businesswoman
Gabrielle Maas, who is offering Internet services
under the name of Virgin Star.
Virgin Enterprises, which is demanding Maas stop trading
under the Virgin name for fear consumers will mistake
Virgin Star for another of Bransons services,
took the fight to the Federal Court.
ruling is yet to be made, but were sure the
other Australian businesses trading with a Virgin
moniker (Maas says there are 10 out there) are keeping
a close eye on the case.