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Carlyle Group said to seek Virgin Media

LONDON, July 2 (UPI) -- The Carlyle Group is talking with Virgin Media Inc. about a bid worth potentially more than $20 billion for the British cable company, published reports said.

The talks are still early and may not lead to a bid, The New York Times reported Monday.

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The offer values Virgin Media at $8 billion to $10 billion, with the offer pitched at between $30 and $35 a share, The Wall Street Journal reported. Virgin Media also has around $12 billion of debt, the Journal said.

In response to Carlyle's approach, Virgin Media has asked adviser Goldman Sachs Inc. to run an auction to gauge interest from other potential bidders, the Journal said.

Virgin Media, Carlyle and Goldman representatives declined to comment.

Virgin Media, whose largest investor is Richard Branson, lost customers this year after it stopped showing channels of rival British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC that carried programs like "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica," the Times said.

The channels were dropped as the result of a battle over fees with satellite broadcaster BSkyB, controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

In May, the company reported its seventh consecutive quarterly loss -- $242.6 million, compared with $241.8 million a year earlier -- after subscribers defected to BSkyB.

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