Group buys Virgin Media, posts quarterly gains

In another major boost to its growing portfolio of post-production facilities, Liberty Media Group said Friday it has acquired Virgin Media Group’s holdings for $40 million through its Four Media Co. subsid.

New deal includes 525 Studios Inc. in Santa Monica, London-based Rushes Post Prod. and West One Television Ltd., and Virgin Television de Mexico in Mexico City. They will now operate under the Burbank-based 4MC banner.

Liberty Media has recently gone on a buying spree, purchasing a series of post houses that include Todd-AO and Soundelux, as well as their own individual subsids, for a mere $420 million.

As part of the new deal, Liberty will take over all remaining shares of the companies and assume their debts.

U.K. clients

“The acquisition of Rushes, 525 and VTM expands our market reach and relationships in the television advertising community,” said Robert T. Walston, CEO of 4MC. “West One adds an impressive list of clients that produce television programming for the U.K. market. The powerful brand names of these companies combined with our existing worldwide operations further enhance our ability to satisfy the expanding global service requirements of our clients.”

Walston added that the buys will enable 4MC and Liberty to deploy a broad range of new services designed to ease the delivery of interactive TV services in the U.S. and U.K.

Virgin Media Group is the holding and management company for all of Virgin’s media interests, including book publishing in the U.K., radio operations in France, Virgin Digital Studios, investments in new-media technologies at Firstart and Virgin.net as well as John Brown Publishing and Rapido TV.

Revs to $905 mil

Separately, Liberty Media announced Friday first quarter revenues of $905 million compared with $760 million a year ago, while cash flow was up to $151 million over $123 million for the same period last year ended March 31.

Liberty owns stakes in cablers Discovery Channel, QVC, Encore Media Group and Internet ventures through its Liberty Digital venture.

Shares of Liberty Media were up 96¢, ending at $43.96, a gain of 2%.

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