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ntl/Telewest Merger edges closer

# 23 June 2005, 10:02 by Nemesis

According to the Financial Times, Cable television operators NTL Corp. and Telewest Global Inc. have moved closer to a 5.9 billion pounds merger and could announce outline terms as early as July.

Talks on a long-anticipated deal between the U.S.-listed groups have accelerated and moved into the “detailed investigative stage,” the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed insider.

A deal is likely to involve a cash and share offer from NTL for its smaller rival.

An NTL spokesman declined to comment on the FT report and no one at Telewest could be reached.

NTL and Telewest grew into largest cable companies during the Internet boom, but encountered substantial debt after buying smaller rivals.

NTL sought bankruptcy protection in the United States and re-emerged in January 2003, while Telewest restructured.

Since then, the two companies have been widely expected to merge to compete better with BSkyB, the top UK pay-TV company.

They face a growing threat from Freeview, a subscription-free digital terrestrial service, which is set to surpass the combined subscriber total of the two cable companies.

The companies have declined to discuss publicly any potential alliance.

Source : Reuters

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