Lutz Schüler to be appointed Chief Executive Officer and Patricia Cobian to be appointed Chief Financial Officer of the combined company upon completion of the transaction. 

Liberty Global and Telefonica today announced their intention to appoint Lutz Schüler as Chief Executive Officer and Patricia Cobian as Chief Financial Officer of the proposed 50-50 joint venture  combining Virgin Media and O2. The merger is subject to approval by the Competition and Markets  Authority (CMA) in the UK.  

Lutz Schüler joined Virgin Media in 2018 as Chief Operating Officer and has been CEO at Virgin  Media since June 2019. Prior to that, Schüler spent more than seven years as CEO of Unitymedia GmbH, Liberty Global’s highly successful German operation, which was sold to Vodafone in 2018.  During his tenure at Virgin Media he has transformed business performance with the acceleration of  1 Gig broadband, the rollout of new entertainment and smart WiFi services and the market’s first  fixed-mobile bundles. Schüler is a 27-year veteran of the telecoms industry, beginning his career at  T-Mobile Deutschland in 1994 and later serving in various senior management roles, including Chief  Operating Officer with Telefonica’s O2 German subsidiary from 1998 to 2010. 

Patricia Cobian is currently Chief Financial Officer for O2, a position she has held since 2016. During a  15-year career with Telefonica she has held a number of senior management positions. Before  taking on her current role, Cobian was Director for Business Development in Telefonica Europe,  where she led strategy, marketing innovation and played a key role in a number of partnerships, spectrum auctions, infrastructure sharing deals and key acquisitions and divestitures in the region.  She also led the post-merger integration planning of Telefonica Deutschland with ePlus. Before  joining Telefonica, Cobian was a consultant with the TMT and Corporate Finance practices of  McKinsey & Company. 

Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, and José Maria Alvarez-Pallete Lopez, CEO of Telefonica,  commented: “We are about to embark on an exciting new chapter for Virgin Media and O2, and Lutz  and Patricia are the right leaders to deliver on our ambition to create the UK’s national connectivity  champion. Together they will build a strong, diverse and dynamic team that will bring more choice, more value and world-class innovation to over 46 million fixed and mobile customers and the  broader consumer and enterprise market.” 

They continued: “Lutz is a unique talent and a perfect fit for the new combined company. He has  extensive experience in fixed and mobile and a fantastic track record at both Liberty and Telefonica  driving transformation and growth. Together, Virgin Media and O2 will need to quickly capitalize on  strategic opportunities in network expansion, digitalization, convergence, 5G and video – all areas where Lutz has a strong background and a clear vision. We couldn’t have a better leader steering us  through these critical and exciting times.”  

Lutz Schüler, commenting on his upcoming role, said: “I’m both humbled and proud to be appointed  CEO of this powerful combination between Virgin Media and O2, and I’m excited that we are getting  closer to realizing our vision of creating a true connectivity champion in the UK. I have enormous  respect for Mark and appreciate the partnership we’ve developed as we prepare both businesses to  come together as one and I’m very enthusiastic about working with Patricia as CFO. She is an  extremely talented leader and together we will build a strong, high performing team.” 

José Maria Alvarez-Pallete Lopez, CEO of Telefonica, added: “I would like to place on record my  appreciation for the exceptional leadership of Mark Evans, the current CEO of O2. Since his  appointment in 2016, the business has established itself as the UK’s number one network by scale  and customer satisfaction and delivered five consecutive years of profit growth. Valuation grew by  £3bn, making this deal possible. He has also played an instrumental role for the Telefónica Group  and our strategy. Mark will remain in his post until completion.” 

Mark Evans said: “I am proud to have served Telefonica, O2, its employees and customers, especially  as CEO over the last five years, and have enjoyed the journey immensely. It has been both a personal  and professional honour to have established O2 as the UK’s number one mobile network and most  compelling brand. I’m confident the joint venture I helped bring to the table will come to fruition and  go on to establish itself as the national connectivity champion the UK deserves. In Liberty Global,  Telefonica has found a first-class partner, and together their brand portfolio and their remarkable  employees have an exciting future ahead.”  

Liberty Global and Telefonica announced the joint venture last May, bringing together Virgin Media,  the U.K.’s fastest broadband network, and O2, the country’s largest and most admired mobile  platform. The combination will create a stronger fixed and mobile competitor in the U.K. market,  supporting the expansion of Virgin Media’s giga-ready network and O2’s 5G mobile deployment for  the benefit of consumers, businesses and the public sector. The joint venture is expected to deliver  substantial synergies valued of more than £6 billion on a net present value basis after integration  costs and will create a nationwide integrated communications provider with £11 billion of revenue.

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