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Bid for Virgin Mobile.

Cable firm NTL, which employs around 300 staff on Teesside, confirmed today it had made a takeover approach to Virgin Mobile in a move valuing the telecoms company at more than pounds 810m.

NTL, which is already in the process of merging with cable rival Telewest, said it planned to use the Virgin brand across its empire of Internet, television and telecoms services if successful.

It would provide the UK's first "quadruple play" service, made up of mobile phones, fixed-line phones, Internet broadband and television.

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Mobile has more than 4 million customers and until today had a value of nearly pounds 790m. An offer from NTL would value its shares at 323p, making the group worth pounds 817m. NTL said it had received verbal assurances from Virgin Group that it would swop its 72pc stake in Virgin Mobile for a stake in NTL if a deal goes ahead.

It is thought this would make Sir Richard the group's biggest single investor with a 14pc holding.

The new firm would have around 2.5 million broadband customers and 4.3 million fixed-line telephony customers, while providing television to 5m homes.

NTL has a base at Preston Farm in Stockton specialising in faults for the whole of the UK.

Virgin also confirmed in a Stock Exchange announcement that it had received an approach from NTL, but gave no further details.
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Title Annotation:Business Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 5, 2005
Words:232
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