Virgin completes Helio takeover

Virgin Mobile completed its acquisition of struggling cellular carrier Helio for €25.7 million (US$38 million) in stock, an Associated Press report said.

Under the terms of the buyout, Helio owners EarthLink and SK Telecom received limited partnership units and shares equivalent to 13 million shares of Virgin Mobile USA stock, the report said.

SK Telecom and British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Group also will each invest €16.7 million (US$25 million) in Virgin Mobile as part of the deal, giving SK Telecom a 17% stake in Virgin Mobile.

The Helio deal brings about 170,000 new customers to Virgin Mobile, the company said.

Both Virgin Mobile and Helio use Sprint Nextel's network, which makes the integration of the two businesses possible. Virgin Mobile said the better network rates will reduce effective cost per minute by 8% in 2009.

SK Telecom will be granted two seats on Virgin Mobile's board.