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NTL & Telewest Merger Draws Near

Posted: 09th May, 2005 By: MarkJ
The Sunday Times has reported that the much fabled merged between the UK's two biggest cable providers, NTL and Telewest, is getting closer. It's believed that the move will be valued at around £5.5bn, but not everybody is happy:

Preparation for the long-awaited deal will take an important step forward this week when Telewest meets investment banks in New York to decide on a line-up of advisers for the merger. NTL is already understood to have asked Goldman Sachs to advise it on the merger.

Telewest and NTL, which have both been listed on Nasdaq since emerging from bankruptcy protection, have also been drawing up plans for the management structure of the new company. Telewest directors are understood to have given their backing to a deal at a board meeting last week.

The company’s chairman, Cob Stenham, is believed to be keen to see the merger progress quickly, with formal talks likely to begin next month. Crucially, the deal is also understood to have the backing of Bill Huff, the US fund manager who is Telewest’s largest shareholder and the second-biggest owner of NTL stock.


The move, which could be seen as a significant threat to both BSkyB and BT, is also being seen sceptically by some customers, specifically, Telewest's.

Over the course of the past two years many such Telewest users have echoed their fears that a merger would damage the quality of service that they've come to know.

NTL is generally rated considerably lower than Telewest, which is seen as a more flexible and better provider in terms of Internet Access, at least. Understandably Telewest’s users wouldn’t want to see these same negatives impact their own service.

On the other hand, both operators will have to be mindful that moving in the wrong direction towards their mutual customers could advantage rivals, such as BT.
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