Liberty Global plc and Telefónica SA will merge their operating businesses in the U.K. to form a 50:50 joint venture focused on broadband + mobile + video + entertainment consumer services. O2 is the largest mobile platform in the UK, while Virgin Media claims to be the nation’s fastest broadband network.
The “fully-converged” JV is also expected to become a leading challenger in the B2B space as the combination will accelerate the adoption of converged fixed-mobile services to Virgin Media’s and O2’s existing business customers.
The JV will have an approximate annual turnover of £11 billion, and 46 million mobile, home, and business connections.
The companies cite significant operating benefits for the JV, with estimated run-rate cost, CAPEX and revenue synergies of £540 million on an annual basis by the fifth full year post closing, equivalent to a net present value of approximately £6.2 billion post tax and net of integration costs, as well as significant synergies from the accelerated usage of existing tax assets. The vast majority of the benefits relate to demonstrable cost and CAPEX synergies, with an annual run-rate of approximately £430 million out of which approximately 80% are expected to be achieved by the third full year after the closing.
- Use of existing infrastructure to provide services for each entity’s customers at lower cost compared to standalone / wholesale capabilities;
- Migration of Virgin Media mobile traffic to Telefonica UK’s network;
- Combination of regional and national network infrastructures and IT systems;
- Reduction in combined marketing expenditures;
- Potential to reduce general and administration costs; and
- Site rationalization
Telefónica’s Chief Executive Officer, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, said, “Combining O2’s number one mobile business with Virgin Media’s superfast broadband network and entertainment services will be a game-changer in the U.K., at a time when demand for connectivity has never been greater or more critical. We are creating a strong competitor with significant scale and financial strength to invest in UK digital infrastructure and give millions of consumer, business and public sector customers more choice and value. This is a proud and exciting moment for our organisations, as we create a leading integrated communications provider in the U.K.”
Mike Fries, Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Global, said, “We couldn’t be more excited about this combination. Virgin Media has redefined broadband and entertainment in the U.K. with lightning fast speeds and the most innovative video platform. And O2 is widely recognized as the most reliable and admired mobile operator in the U.K., always putting the customer first. With Virgin Media and O2 together, the future of convergence is here today. We’ve seen the benefit of FMC first-hand in Belgium and the Netherlands. When the power of 5G meets 1 gig broadband, U.K. consumers and businesses will never look back. We’re committed to this market and are right behind the Government’s digital and connectivity goals.”