Advanced Television

Branson: Virgin still wants ITV

October 1, 2007

Richard Branson has signaled that Virgin Media has not abandoned its plans to buy UK commercial broadcaster ITV. Branson, Virgin Media’s largest shareholder, also suggested his Virgin group would retain its 10.5 per cent stake if the cable company is sold.

“I think it’s extremely unlikely the Virgin brand would ever be withdrawn from Virgin Media and we never said that we’d be selling our shares,” Branson said. “I think if anybody wanted to buy Virgin Media it would be because it’s got the brand.”

Virgin’s attempt to buy ITV last year was spurned by the broadcaster’s board, and was effectively blocked by BSkyB buying a 17.9 per cent stake in ITV.

Sky's £940 million (E1.36bn) buy is now the subject of an investigation by the Competition Commission, after Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading flagged up public interest and competition concerns.

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