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Virgin Media delays auction

Turbulent credit market could hamper bids

LONDON — The auction of U.K. cable group Virgin Media has been delayed by the turmoil in the global credit market.

Initial bids for the group, which controls the U.K. cable business, were due this week, and tipped to reach as high as $23 million.

But in a statement today (Aug. 7), the company said it has extended the process so that bidders “can complete their proposals in a more stable debt market environment.”

Among the potential suitors are John Malone’s Liberty Global, private equity group Carlyle, and another private equity consortium including KKR, Blackstone and Providence.

But the ability of private equity suitors to finance multi-billion dollar takeovers has been hit in recent weeks by a tightening in the global credit market, caused by problems in the U.S. sub-prime mortgage sector.

Virgin Media, whose largest shareholder is entrepreneur Richard Branson, spans cable TV, broadband, home phone and mobile phone services.

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