Virgin Media postpones $11 bil sale

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LONDON -- Turmoil in the debt markets has forced British cable operator Virgin Media to indefinitely postpone its planned $11 billion sale in a leveraged buyout deal, the company said Tuesday.

The broadband, mobile, digital television and telephony company effectively put itself in play in July after receiving an offer from a private equity group led by the Carlyle group, with a second approach led by Providence Equity Partners thought to have been in the wings.

But the company, in which Richard Branson remains the biggest shareholder, on Tuesday blamed collapsing confidence in global credit markets for the delay.

"To enhance shareholder value, Virgin Media's financial advisers have recommended that Virgin Media extend the process until these parties can complete their proposals in a more stable debt market environment," it said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Virgin Media appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on its sale prospects.

The global credit crunch has affected big-ticket leveraged buyout deals as investment banks found that they were unable to syndicate the debt levels required to fund such deals.

Last month, banks were unable to raise the $12 billion necessary to fund the purchase of Chrysler Corp., while in the U.K., banks abandoned attempts to raise the $10 billion financing to support KKR's purchase of retail pharmacy chain Alliance Boots.
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