Virgin Media Eyes Sale To US-Based Cable Firm
Virgin Media has confirmed it is in talks about a possible sale of the company to the US cable group Liberty Global.
Almost five million households in the UK subscribe to Virgin's broadband, television and landline services.
Virgin also has some three million mobile phone customers in Britain.
Sir Richard Branson owns a three percent stake in Virgin Media, which is listed in New York, with a secondary listing in London.
The company's share price soared on news of the talks, going up by some 18% in trading.
US-based Liberty Global operates in 13 territories and is seeking to expand its base in Europe.
Virgin Media is the second biggest pay-TV group in Britain behind BSkyB, the parent company of Sky News, and has been valued at around $20bn (£13bn).
The talks were confirmed by Virgin Media, which currently has debts of around $9bn (£5.7bn), in a brief statement.
Liberty has recently increased its stake in Belgian operator Telenet to 58% and owns other consumer brands across Europe, including UPC, Unitymedia, Kabel BW and VTR.
It also owns a content and channels group called Chellomedia.