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Liberty and Telefonica agree $38 billion UK tie-up to take on BT

Liberty Global and Telefonica have agreed to merge their British businesses in a $38 billion deal that will create a powerhouse in mobile and broadband to take on market leader BT. In the biggest shake-up of the British telecoms market for five years, the deal will bring together the biggest cable TV provider in Liberty’s Virgin Media with Telefonica’s O2, the second-largest mobile operator.The tie-up mirrors a succession of European deals struck by Liberty’s billionaire founder John Malone to create one-stop shops for mobile and broadband. The Telefonica deal will allow the debt-laden Spanish company to extract cash while remaining in Britain, having tried and failed to sell O2 in 2016. It will also force rivals Vodafone, Comcast’s Sky, Three UK and TalkTalk to examine whether they need to have the full set of fixed and mobile assets to keep up.