Liberty Global deal nets Branson $316m

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The Independent Online

Sir Richard Branson is set to top up his bank account with another $316m (£201.7m) following the agreed takeover of Virgin Media by John Malone's Liberty Global for $16bn.

The billionaire, pictured, who has an estimated £3.4bn fortune, owns 6.6 million shares in Virgin Media as the inheritance to the 2006 deal which saw him inject his Virgin Mobile into cable company NTL Telewest.

Liberty is offering a mixture of cash and shares valuing each Virgin Media share at $47.87 which makes Sir Richard's stake worth $316m. The agreed bid is at a 24 per cent premium to Virgin Media's closing price on Monday before the deal became public.

Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media, said he would be leaving once the deal was completed because: "I'm not a very good No 2."

Mr Berkett could receive up to $85m when the deal goes through under share and option schemes.

He said that under its new ownership Virgin Media would become a "disruptive challenger" to rivals like Sky and BT.

But Mike Fries, Liberty chief executive, played down suggestions that Mr Malone intends to take on Rupert Murdoch.

He said that he was not planning to bid for premium sports rights against Sky and was happy to keep the current relationship offering premium Sky channels on the Virgin network.

Mr Fries also said he did not expect to cut any jobs among Virgin's engineers and call-centre staff in the UK.