By Foo Yun Chee and Kate Holton
BRUSSELS/LONDON, April 8 (Reuters) - 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 comment.
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.