By Foo Yun Chee and Kate Holton
BRUSSELS/LONDON, April 8 John Malone's Liberty
Global will get unconditional EU clearance for its
$15.8 billion bid for Virgin Media, two people familiar
with the matter said on Monday, in a move which pits the U.S.
billionaire against rival Rupert Murdoch.
Liberty Global, Europe's No. 1 cable operator, unveiled the
takeover offer for Britain's second-biggest pay-TV provider in
February. The move underscores the growing rivalry between cable
groups and traditional telecoms operators.
"The European Commission does not have any competition
concerns about the deal," one of the sources said.
The European Union competition authority is set to announce
its decision by April 15. Antoine Colombani, Commission
spokesman for competition policy, and Virgin Media declined to
comment. A spokesman for Liberty Global was not available for
Malone, Liberty Global's controlling shareholder, clashed
with Murdoch, owner of British satellite group BSkyB, a
decade ago when they fought for control of U.S. satellite TV
broadcaster DirecTV Group.
The Virgin Media deal will reinforce Liberty Global's
challenge against BSkyB, Britain's top pay-TV provider.
The $15.8 billion value of the deal was the implied price on
Feb. 6, the day it was announced.