CEO, CFO named for O2 and Virgin Media UK joint venture

fireworks in London
The joint venture will serve 46 million fixed and mobile customers in the UK. (Corinthia London)

About a year ago, Liberty Global and Telefonica announced they planned to merge two UK businesses — Liberty’s Virgin Media and Telefonica’s O2 — in a $38.55 billion joint venture. That deal is expected to be approved soon by the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK.

In the meantime, Liberty Global and Telefonica today announced their intention to appoint Lutz Schüler as CEO and Patricia Cobian as CFO of the proposed 50-50 joint venture.

The joint venture will serve 46 million fixed and mobile customers in the UK. It brings together Liberty Global’s Virgin Media broadband network and Telefonica’s O2 mobile platform.

RELATED: Virgin Media, O2 to merge U.K. businesses in $38.55B joint venture

Schüler is currently CEO of Virgin Media, a position he’s held since 2019. Prior to that, he spent more than seven years as CEO of Unitymedia, Liberty Global’s German operation, which was sold to Vodafone in 2018. Schüler is a 27-year veteran of the telecom industry, beginning his career at T-Mobile Deutschland in 1994.

Cobian is currently CFO 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, including director of business development at Telefonica Europe.

“Together, Virgin Media and O2 will need to quickly capitalize on strategic opportunities in network expansion, digitalization, convergence, 5G and video,” said Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, and José Maria Alvarez-Pallete Lopez, CEO of Telefonica, in a statement.

Mark Evans, who has been the CEO of O2 since 2016, will move on to other things.

Evans said: “It has been both a personal and professional honor 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.”