Virgin Mobile seeking 'no-brainer' expansion

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The Independent Online

Virgin Mobile is planning a major expansion into continental Europe, which could see the company controlled by Sir Richard Branson breaking into Scandinavia, France and Ireland.

Virgin Mobile is planning a major expansion into continental Europe, which could see the company controlled by Sir Richard Branson breaking into Scandinavia, France and Ireland.

The drive will be based around Virgin Mobile's "virtual network model" where it leases airtime from established operators and then sells it on to its own customers.

"This is a bit of a no-brainer for us," said Tom Alexander, chief executive of Virgin Mobile. "We have teams of people working on it." He refused to say when Virgin would sign a deal, but he hinted that a Scandinavian country could be first.

"The great thing about Virgin in Scandinavia is that it is an aspirational brand with the youth market," said Mr Alexander. "With the music heritage, people know about Virgin, but it is seen as slightly being unobtainable,"

He said that France and Ireland were also targets due to the presence of Virgin Megastores, which sell the mobile phones.

Virgin Mobile is also considering the possibility of acquiring an operator. Alexander said: "There are small companies throughout Europe that are floundering: they haven't got enough scale and they have too much cost in them. We could acquire a company, turn it around pretty quickly and use it as a platform for further growth."

Virgin Mobile had no interest in owning mobile masts or base stations. So, any acquisition would see Virgin Mobile sell and lease these assets back to an existing operator.

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