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ntl:Telewest to adopt Virgin brand in 2007

Wed, 07/05/2006 - 7:03am

Copyright 2006 Total Telecom
All Rights Reserved
Total Telecom
July 4, 2006 Tuesday
By Anne Morris, Total Telecom
From Lexis Nexis

NTL Inc., the holding company for U.K. cable group ntl:Telewest, said Tuesday it has completed the acquisition of Virgin Mobile after it received all necessary court approvals, but added that the Virgin name would not be adopted as the group brand until 2007.

ntl:Telewest has already agreed to a licensing arrangement with Virgin Enterprises that permits it to use the Virgin brand for all of its consumer services, which following the merger with Virgin Mobile, will comprise fixed and mobile telephone services, broadband and television.

"For the time being, however, they will continue to operate as separate organisations and brands, so there will be no change to the services or terms and conditions of either company's customers," ntl:Telewest said in a statement.

"It is anticipated that the company will start marketing a single portfolio of services under the Virgin brand some time early in 2007, if not sooner," the company added.

The acquisition of mobile virtual network operator Virgin Mobile for just shy of £1 billion has turned ntl:Telewest into the U.K.'s first so-called "quadruple player". The merger of NTL with rival cable operator Telewest was completed in March this year.

The group will hope to benefit from Virgin Mobile's better record on customer services, for example. Indeed it was recently reported that Virgin employees have already started "sorting out" NTL customer services, long seen as one of the cable operator's main weaknesses.

"This is a transformational deal for ntl:Telewest and good news for U.K. consumers. Virgin Mobile has a justified reputation for being one of the country's most customer-focused companies," commented ntl:Telewest CEO Steve Burch.

Following its acquisition by ntl:Telewest, Virgin Mobile's shares have now been delisted from the London Stock Exchange.

"Today, we've created a unique organisation - a new, soon-to-be-branded Virgin company - which will offer the very finest in 'quadruple' - the best-value, most exciting TV, broadband, mobile and phone services in Britain," said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

"We're entering a pioneering time, where the worlds of media, entertainment and communications are coming together - and through our new company, our aim is to offer consumers the very best, most sought-after choice available. You ain't, as the saying goes, seen nothing yet...," Branson added.

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