Virgin Media considering takeover of Hull’s KCOM
VIRGIN Media is exploring what would be a historic takeover of KCOM, the monopoly telecoms provider in Hull, in an attempt to accelerate its network expansion programme.
The cable operator, controlled by US billionaire John Malone, is considering a bid to add KCOM’S 200,000 “full-fibre” broadband lines to its network, according to multiple sources.
It is understood the deliberations are at an early stage. Virgin Media could yet decide not to make a bid for KCOM, sources said.
However the acquisition is being weighed up by Virgin Media and its parent company Liberty Global as part of a landgrab for ultra-fast broadband customers as competition from BT and other network-builders intensifies.
The cable operator is already investing £3bn to expand coverage from a half to two-thirds of the country. It aimed to complete the work by next year, but has been heavily delayed. The addition of KCOM’S network could provide a quick boost.
A deal would end more than a century of independence for the telecoms network in Hull, which due to a quirk of history is the only part of the country not served by Openreach.
KCOM was never subsumed into BT and remained under municipal control until a stock market float in 1999. Hull City Council remained a major shareholder until 2007 when it sold off its remaining shares.
In recent years the FTSE 250 member has raced ahead of BT’S Openreach infrastructure subsidiary to connect every home and business on its patch with new fibre-optic lines.
Virgin Media is understood to be considering a bid in the wake of a major profit warning by KCOM in November, triggered by poor performance in its divisions providing businesses nationwide. Virgin Media and KCOM declined to comment.