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Virgin sells TV amid debt woes

UBS assisting Media co. in sale of channels

LONDON — Debt laden cabler Virgin Media appointed UBS on today to advise it on the sale of its TV channels, which are reckoned to be worth up to £500 million ($709 million).

Virgin Media Television includes a 50% stake in pay TV operator UKTV, valued at around $495 million, digital channels such as Living and Bravo, and ad sales house IDS.

The remaining half of UKTV is owned by BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster’s commercial arm, which has first refusal on the Virgin stake.

Virgin declined to comment on the decision, which follows Wednesday’s announcement that head of content, Malcolm Wall, is ankling in April.

Speculation has been rife over a sale for some time.

Virgin Media’s topper Neil Berkett has focused the debt-laden cabler’s activities on providing high-speed broadband rather than content. 

Potential bidders for Virgin may include rival pay box BSkyB.

The satcaster considered buying Virgin’s content business three years ago when it was put up for sale and then withdrawn. 

Virgin Media, in debt to the tune of $8.4 billion, is in the throes of a restructuring that will see the loss of 2,200 jobs, 15% of its staff.

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