Richard Branson’s Four-Play Move

Given all the recent activity in the US around the concept of four-play (a combination of voice, video, data and wireless) services, it was only a matter of time before other countries jumped into the fray. The Telegraph reports that Richard Branson will merge his Virgin Mobile MVNO with NTL, a major cable service provider in the UK. Branson, who owns 72% of Virgin Mobile will hold 14% of the combined company. The new company will be called what else, Virgin. (Virgin and four play in one sentence… priceless, for everything else…. there is Master Card!)

The new Virgin will have 2.5 million broadband customers, 4.3 million fixed line phone customers, and will have revenues of close to $7 billion. The deal is predicated on NTL closing $5 billion merger with Telewest. It is ironic that the talks were held between Simon Duffy, CEO of NTL and Branson, who is not part of Virgin’s management. Even T-Mobile, the carrier that carries Virgin’s mobile traffic was told after a handshake deal was reached. This is not good news for Murdoch family, which has been trying to build its own four-play offering. Murdoch’s Sky recently snapped up EasyNet for $373 million.

One banker said yesterday: “James Murdoch is going to choke on his muesli when he hears about this one. It’s going to be the battle of the brands – Virgin versus Sky.”

Full story @ The Telegraph.

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