Virgin Media and O2 rumoured to be considering joining forces in the UK

Josh Peachey's picture

The owners of Virgin Media and O2 are reportedly in talks to join forces to challenge BT and Sky in the UK.

John Malone’s Liberty Global, the owner of Virgin Media, is understood to be speaking to Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica about combining their UK assets in a joint venture.

There's speculation over whether ITV will be included in any potential deal as Liberty Global is also ITV's largest shareholder, owning 10%. 

A deal between Virgin Media and O2 would bring together the mobile operator’s 34m customers, the largest network in the UK, with the cable operator’s 5.3m broadband, pay-TV and mobile users.

In 2015, a £10.25bn bid from Three UK to take over O2 was blocked by the European Commission on competition grounds.

A combination of Virgin Media, which runs virtual mobile network Virgin Mobile using BT’s network, and O2 has previously been considered a smart move in the UK telecommunications industry.

In November, Telefonica announced a restructuring plan to focus on four main markets including the UK, while selling off a number of assets in Latin America.

Liberty Global and Vodafone have previously held talks about a tie-up in the UK, similar to the current talks between Virgin Media and O2, but no deal was made.

Last year, Vodafone and Virgin Media signed a deal in the UK to use each other’s networks, which was viewed as a renewing of closer ties that could kick on to potential talks of a wider deal.

None of the companies have made any official statements.