UPDATE 5:21 PM: Liberty Global and Virgin Media confirmed late today that Liberty will acquire Virgin Media. Here’s the release:

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.–Liberty Global, Inc. (“Liberty Global”) (NASDAQ: LBTYA, LBTYB and LBTYK) and Virgin Media Inc. (“Virgin Media”) (NASDAQ: VMED; LSE: VMED) today announced that they have entered into an agreement, subject to shareholder approvals, pursuant to which Liberty Global will acquire Virgin Media in a stock and cash merger valued at approximately $23.3 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Virgin Media shareholders will receive $17.50 in cash, 0.2582 Liberty Global Series A shares and 0.1928 Liberty Global Series C shares for each Virgin Media share that they hold. Based on Liberty Global’s Series A share price of $69.46 and Series C share price of $64.50 as of February 4, 2013, this implies a price of $47.87 per Virgin Media share, reflecting a 24% premium to Virgin Media’s closing price on February 4, 2013.1

PREVIOUS: Setting the stage for a battle of billionaires John Malone and Rupert Murdoch, Virgin Media has just released a statement regarding yesterday’s news that Malone‘s Liberty Global is prepping a $20B+ bid for the group. The UK’s second largest pay-TV operator confirmed it is “in discussions” with Liberty Global “concerning a possible transaction.” A move by Malone on Virgin and its 4.9M subscribers would pit him against long-time frenemy Murdoch whose News Corp. owns 39.1% of BSkyB, the UK’s leading pay-TV group. On Monday, The Financial Times reported that a bid could be announced in the coming days and this morning Virgin’s share price jumped 14% in London. The company also said in today’s statement that any transaction would be subject to regulatory and other conditions and promised a further announcement “in due course.”

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