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Virgin Media hires ex-News Corp boss Tom Mockridge

Tom_MockridgeFormer News International CEO Tom Mockridge is set to take the CEO role at Virgin Media, replacing current boss Neil Berkett after the closing of Liberty Global’s buyout of the business.

Mockridge, who spent more than two decades at News Corp before stepping down from its newspaper arm in December, will report to Liberty Global president and CEO Mike Fries in his new role.

He will also report to a newly formed operating committee comprising Liberty Global boss Mike Fries, executive VP of European broadband operations Diederik Karsten and Liberty executive VP and chief technology officer Balan Nair.

Liberty Global’s US$23.3 billion buyout of Virgin Media, which was agreed in February, has already been approved by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Shareholders are scheduled to vote on the deal in June and the deal is expected to close soon after.

“Tom will bring to Virgin Media a breadth of experience in the pay-TV industry, both in the UK and throughout Europe. I have known and worked with Tom for nearly 15 years and have always admired his leadership and operating success in a number of highly competitive media markets,” said Fries, claiming Mockridge would help lead Virgin in its “next phase of growth.”

Mockridge was CEO of News International between July 2011 and December 2012 after being brought in to steady the ship in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that engulfed the News Corp publishing division. Prior to this, he was chief executive of European television at News Corporation from 2008, responsible for its television operations in Europe and outside the UK, and was chief executive of Sky Italia at News Corporation from 2003 to 2011.

Berkett announced when Liberty agreed to buy Virgin that he would step down after the deal closes. He was appointed CEO of Virgin Media in 2008, having joined NTL – the firm that merged with Telewest to become Virgin Media – in September 2005 as chief operating officer.