AT&T set to sell its 22% stake in Telewest

AT&T, THE US telecoms giant, is thought to be preparing to sell its long-distance telecommunications business in the UK and its shareholding in Telewest, the cable operator, as a condition for the European Commission clearing its $10bn alliance with British Telecom.

The commission is ready to give its formal approval to the joint venture, in a move that would clear one of the hurdles in BT and AT&T's attempts to achieve regulatory approval for the deal.

The US Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission is still investigating the alliance.

The European Commission, which has been investigating the agreement since last October, has concluded that the alliance should be allowed to go ahead provided that AT&T sells some of its assets in the UK.

Karel van Miert, the European competition commissioner, reportedly told an audience in Belgium on Thursday evening that he was ready to clear the deal if the disposals were made.

A formal statement is expected in the next few weeks.

The news raises the prospect of AT&T being forced to sell ACC, its subsidiary which sells long-distance telecom services to UK business customers. The company, which employs 400 people, currently has approximately 2 per cent of the UK long-distance market.

AT&T also has a 21.6 per cent stake in Telewest, the UK's second-largest telecom operator, as well as a UK communications business employing 500 people.

AT&T is unlikely to object to the conditions as it is does not see the businesses as central to its objectives.

AT&T acquired ACC when it bought Teleport, the US local access operator. Meanwhile, it inherited the Telewest stake as the result of its acquisition of TCI, the US cable and media operator.

According to analysts, ACC would be likely to fetch several hundreds of millions of pounds for AT&T. However, any sale is likely to incur a large tax charge for the US group because of the way in which it accounted for its merger with Teleport.

The stake in Telewest, meanwhile, is currently worth more than pounds 1bn and it is likely to be seen by other players in the cable industry as a possible launch pad for further consolidation.

An AT&T spokesman refused to comment yesterday. "We cannot comment on the states of inquiries in the process of considering the venture," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most