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£31bn merger

Virgin Media and O2 unveil tech rival to BT-EE

Virgin Media and O2 are to merge to create a £31 billion media and telecoms giant, their parent firms have announced.

The two firms had confirmed on Monday that they were in discussions over a possible combination.

Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media, and Spain’s Telefonica, which owns O2, said they had agreed terms for joining forces.

O2 is the UK’s largest phone company with about 34 million users. Virgin has about 5.3 million broadband and cable TV customers and another three million mobile users.

As well as having its own subscribers, O2 provides the network for Tesco Mobile, Giffgaff and Sky Mobile.

Mike Fries, chief executive officer of Virgin Media owner Liberty Global, said: “We couldn’t be more excited about this combination.

The tie-up will create a major rival for former state monopoly BT, which is the biggest provider of broadband and owns the EE mobile network.

It is expected to close in the middle of next year and will need to be approved by regulators. It values Virgin at £18.7bin and O2 at £12.7bn.

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