Virgin Media tentatively names new CEO

Liberty Global – the US firm buying out Virgin Media – has named Tom Mockridge as CEO, if the merger is approved by shareholders

Tom Mockridge is set to become the new CEO of Virgin Media, if its deal to be bought by Liberty Global closes as planned later this quarter.

The US firm made the announcement today, despite the acquisition – worth £15bn – having yet to face the shareholder vote on both sides, which is scheduled for early June.

Mockridge will take over from the current CEO Neil Berkett, who was given the boot following negotiations between himself and Liberty Global’s executive team.

Berkett, who has held the post since 2008, had planned to leave before the end of 2013. However, sources confirmed to Computer Weekly he would be receiving a severance package of $19.6m – equivalent to twice his salary.

SEC filings said he was only entitled to this payment “if Virgin Media Limited terminates Mr Berkett’s employment without cause… and chooses to pay him in lieu of his entitlement to 30 days’ notice, or if his employment is terminated by Virgin Media Limited without cause during the period commencing on the date of a change in control of Virgin Media and ending on the first anniversary date thereof”.

Unlike Berkett, whose CV shows a financial and telecoms background, Mockridge comes from the television and publishing industry, having been CEO of News International between July 2011 and December 2012, CEO of European television at News Corporation from 2008 and CEO of Sky Italia from 2003.

“Thanks to the incredible energy of its employees and the loyalty of its customers, Virgin Media has become the UK’s leading broadband communications company and has developed an immensely powerful media brand,” said Mockridge.

“I keenly anticipate joining the team as it continues to deliver the cutting-edge TV and broadband products and services that excite and inspire its customers across the UK."

Mike Fries, president and CEO of Liberty Global – who Mockridge will report to post-acquisition – celebrated the appointment in a statement, as well as paying homage to the exiting executive.

“Tom will bring to Virgin Media a breadth of experience in the pay-TV industry, both in the UK and throughout Europe,” he said. “We are fortunate to bring an executive of Tom’s talent and experience in to lead Virgin Media in its next phase of growth.

“I’d also like to wish Neil Berkett all the best in his future endeavours. He has done an outstanding job at Virgin Media and will be missed by all.”

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