Virgin Media has apparently inserted a clause into the sale of VMtv and its 50% share in UKTV, preventing the buyer from selling them on to a company that is part or fully owned by News Corporation. But neither News Corp, nor associated companies such as BSkyB, are precluded from buying the assets directly from Virgin.
It is understood BSkyB, in which News Corp owns 39.1%, has lodged the highest bid, of £160m (E186m), for VMtv. According to reports – Viacom, Time Warner, BSkyB and Channel 4 – have made the final shortlist, with a decision due next month.
It seems Virgin Media wants to ensure that if News Corp or one of its companies acquires the assets, “BSkyB will have to pay top dollar” to get them rather than have a proxy buy then pass on to them.