Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries told investors a merger of its Virgin Media UK brand with Telefonica’s local O2 operation was on track to be completed this year, citing positive progress being made with regulators.

As part of the company’s Q4 2020 results statement, Fries noted the transaction was expected to meet its estimated closing date of mid-2021 and would create a “fixed-mobile champion” in the market.

The deal, announced in May 2020, is currently being scrutinised by the UK Competition and Markets Authority. The regulator is assessing any potential negative impacts on the country’s wholesale telecoms and consumer markets.

On announcing the deal, both Telefonica and Liberty Global claimed it would be a “game changer” for the market, upping competition in the business and consumer sector in fixed and mobile.

In addition to announcing its UK deal, in 2020 Liberty Global bought Swiss mobile operator Sunrise and is in the process of combining the unit with its cable operation in the country.

The company also owns predominantly fixed assets across several markets.

In Q4, Liberty Global booked a net loss of $1 billion compared with a loss of $1.4 billion in Q4 2019, with revenue up 15 per cent to $3.4 billion. However, comparisons with previous financial results are impacted by several acquisitions and divestments.