NEW YORK (AP) — Liberty Global Inc., the cable TV operator controlled by media mogul John Malone, is buying U.K.-based Virgin Media Inc. in a $16 billion deal that steps up the rivalry between Malone and fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch.

Liberty Global is paying $5.9 billion in cash and the rest in stock for Virgin Media. The combination, announced late Tuesday, will provide stiffer competition in the U.K. to satellite TV provider BSkyB, which Murdoch's News Corp. is the largest single shareholder in, with a stake of about 40 percent.

The combined Liberty Global-Virgin Media company will become one of the world's largest providers of cable TV, Internet and phone services, with 25 million customers in 14 countries.