Virgin Media frontrunner in race to acquire Pipex

Virgin Media is understood to be in pole position to acquire broadband Internet firm Pipex, which put itself up for sale this week with a price tag of around £335m.

According to a report in The Telegraph this morning, Pipex has instructed the investment bank UBS to advise it on possible approaches, one which is believed to have come from the multimedia company, formed through the merger of NTL/Telewest and Virgin Mobile.

Another approach is believed to have come from telecoms company BT, which has moved further into the broadband arena with the BT Vision service it launched last year.

Pipex, which currently has 570,000 customers, has also been linked with potential bids from BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse, adding to its existing AOL UK business.

Pipex is best known of late for using the former 'Baywatch' and 'Knight Rider' star David Hasselhoff in its advertising created by Karmarama. In November, Karmarama in collaboration with digital agency ArtScience created Hoffworld as part of the brand campaign. Virgin Media is currently using the Hollywood actress Uma Thurman in its advertising.

Last year, Pipex paid £43m for Homecall, the Manchester-based telecoms and broadband business owned by Phones 4U boss John Caudwell.

At the time of the announcement of a possible sale this week, Pipex said: "Pipex confirms that it has appointed UBS to investigate a number of strategic options, which could include a sale of the company.

"This process is at a very early stage and there can be no certainty that a transaction will result. A further announcement will be made in due course."

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