Virgin Mobile’s board has unanimously rejected the takeover bid by Britain’s largest cable TV company NTL. Their statement was simple – “The board has concluded that the potential offer materially undervalues Virgin Mobile.”
Though the board was unanimous, we can read just one thing into this. Since Richard Branson owns more than 70% of the company, his opinion is the only one that really matters. He didn’t like something about the 800 million pound (1.184 billion euros, 1.384 billion dollars) deal, so it didn’t happen.
This move can mean a few things. They could be angling to get a higher bid from NTL, though such a public rejection makes this seem less likely. They could have ambitions to remain independent, but the trend towards consolidation in the European mobile industry makes this unrealistic and therefore unlikely.
“The difference between what they’ve asked for and what NTL has offered is not considerable in financial terms.” Branson told Australian reporters.
Branson is flamboyant and gutsy enough that the possibility exists that he just might make a bold and unexpected play to take over another company instead of being taken over. He might just feel more comfortable as the boss.
With all of these possibilities out there, it will be fun to watch this drama play out over the coming months.