Virgin Media O2 Makes Play for BT’s Customers to Fuel Expansion
(Bloomberg) -- Virgin Media O2 is in talks with BT Group Plc’s biggest customers to potentially poach millions of customers and bolster its U.K. broadband ambitions.
The newly-merged carrier is in discussions with Vodafone Group Plc and TalkTalk Telecom Group Ltd about reselling broadband to customers over the VMO2 network, according to four people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the talks are confidential.
Talks with Vodafone could also eventually include mobile co-investment, because the companies share a mobile mast joint venture, two of the people said.
BT shares fell as much as 8% on Monday after the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported VMO2, owned by Liberty Global Plc and Telefonica SA, had also made progress in negotiations with Comcast Corp’s Sky about securing co-investment in a planned upgrade of its cable network to fiber optics.
Former state monopoly BT would face an unprecedented challenge if Virgin opened up its network to other internet service providers. Currently, BT owns Openreach, the only national wholesaler of broadband in the U.K. Virgin Media’s network covers about half of the country but is used solely by Virgin customers.
Vodafone has 940,000 broadband customers in the U.K., while TalkTalk has more than 4 million broadband customers. Neither disclose how many of those are on BT’s network.
Representatives for all companies declined to comment.
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