Virgin Media Stock Hits 52-Week High as Liberty Global Deal Talks Are Confirmed

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John Malone's international cable company could pay $20 billion-plus for the U.K. company, which competes with BSkyB.

The stock of U.K. cable operator Virgin Media jumped to a 52-week high Wednesday after it confirmed that it is in discussions about a possible sale to John Malone's Liberty Global.

The stock rose more than 15 percent to a new 52-week high of $44.60 (£28.26) in early trading.

The Financial Times had reported late Tuesday that international cable firm Liberty Global was preparing a $20 billion-plus bid for Virgin. The second-largest British pay-TV firm competes with the likes of satellite-TV giant BSkyB, in which Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns a 39-percent stake.

"Virgin Media confirms that it is in discussions with Liberty Global Inc., a leading international cable company, concerning a possible transaction," Virgin Media said in a statement entitled "Response to Press Speculation" on Tuesday. "Any such transaction would be subject to regulatory and other conditions."

It added that any further announcement would come “in due course.”

Liberty Global owns businesses in 13 countries with 20 million customers. It operates in such countries as Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Chile, and is the parent company of European content arm Chello Media.

Twitter: @georgszalai