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Virgin Mobile Files for IPO

Youth-oriented prepaid MVNO Virgin Mobile USA Inc. has filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company plans to trade on the NYSE under the symbol VM but few other details have been worked out. The company said it is unsure of how many shares it will issue or how much cash it expects to raise, although the number $100 million has been floated by industry watchers. Likewise, a trading date has not yet been set.

Virgin, a joint venture between Sprint Nextel Corp. and Richard Bransons Virgin Group, was one of the first MVNOs launched in the United States, back in 2003. It focuses on offering hip services to the under-35 crowd on a prepaid basis. It said in its SEC prospectus that 17 percent of its service revenue for 2006 were from data services.

Sprint and the Virgin Group will retain control over management, Virgin said. It also listed 4.88 million customers as of March 31, with an average $21.48 ARPU in 2006. Still, it posted a $36.7 million loss last year.

Virgin Mobile is one of the successful MVNOs, so it is no surprise to hear about them going public, said analyst Jeff Kagan in a brief. Timing seems to be right again. There are no guarantees. We’ve seen several good and bad IPOs recently. However, Virgin Mobile seems to have found a niche they are marketing to in the youth market.

Sprint Nextel Corp. www.sprint.com  
Virgin Mobile USA Inc. www.virginmobileusa.com


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