1. ITV Report

John Malone: American billionaire in Virgin takeover

American billionaire John Malone Photo: John Malone

Liberal Global confirmed it will buy Virgin Media in a deal worth £10 billion. Liberal Global is the already the largest cable operator in Europe, with 18.4 million subscribers.

Liberty Global said the agreement would create "the world's leading broadband communications company."

John Malone, the billionaire owner of the company, is known as the Darth Vader of the US cable TV industry, for his apparently ruthless approach to business and seemingly inexhaustible ambition

71-year-old Malone started his career in 1963, after graduating from Yale University, at American telecommunications firm AT&T Corporation.

Two decades of work saw him make something of a name for himself, and make a fortune as he built up Denver-based firm Tele-Communications Inc in the 1980s.

He then became director of the US National Cable Television (NCTA) and went on to receive the NCTA Vanguard Award in 1983, one of the highest honours in the US cable television industry.

Famed for speaking his mind and taking no prisoners, he was reportedly branded the Darth Vader of the information age by former American vice-president Al Gore because of his approach to business.

His approach proved fruitful: Forbes magazine says he worth £5.6 billion, and is said to be the US's largest individual landowner with nearly 2.2 million acres across the country in Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

Today's takeover of Virgin Media pits him directly against Mr Murdoch whose News Corporation, which was once 18% owned by Mr Malone, owns 39% of pay-TV market leader BSkyB.