Sky/Virgin Media Battle Getting Personal

Includes: SKYAY, VMED
by: Keith McMahon

I confess that I flicked through the Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) 10-Q yesterday and it crossed my mind that I could write something cruel about the lack of profits. However, this was also balanced by what I felt was reasonable brand charges from the Virgin Group. I decided the bigger story was a comparison of the Q1 results and how the Sky (BSY) battle was affecting actual market performance and shareholder returns.

The Times instead has decided to go personal with an article entitled – “Virgin Media awards seven executives £25m after losing £510m” - I presume that this story couldn't be planted with the Telegraph.

It gets more petty and far more personal from that lowpoint:

  • “…Board members of the British cable company also held a special meeting in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico… to which spouses and partners of directors were invited and their costs of travel met by the firm.”
  • “followed by Cob Stenham, who died in October and received $10.7 million in pay and awards in 2006…Stenham’s family were given extra time to exercise stock options, while an executor to his estate was appointed.”
  • “Steve Burch, who spent 17 years at US cable operator Comcast before joining Virgin Media in January last year. His pay package includes $175,000 for legal costs relating to litigation with his former employer.”
  • This battle is very, very nasty and several people will regret what they have said for many, many years. I advise extreme caution for anyone caught up in the crossfire...