Debt-ridden Telewest's MD quits with £500,000

Telewest, the cable television and communications group, yesterday parted company with its managing director, Charles Burdick, shortly before the completion of a critical restructuring which will see bondholders swap £3.5bn of debt for 97.5 per cent of the reconstituted company's shares.

It is understood that bondholders and Mr Burdick came to a "mutual" agreement that he should stand down. As a former finance director of the company, Mr Burdick was part of the senior management team who pursued the ill fated strategy of borrowing large amounts of cash to fund rapid expansion in the UK cable market. The bondholders are understood to have wanted new management after the restructuring. Mr Burdick will leave with a £500,000 pay off, equal to one year's salary.

He will be replaced as chief executive by Barry Elson, who was recruited at the end of last year to become chairman of Telewest Global, the name of the restructured Telewest business which will have a US stock market quote on Nasdaq.

Mr Elson's replacement as chairman at the new Telewest Global will be Cob Stenham, a Telewest stalwart. Some analysts suggested that bringing back Mr Stenham as chairman rather than seeking fresh blood implied that Telewest Global was likely to seek a merger with its UK cable rival NTL in the next 12-24 months.

Telewest's drawn-out restructuring is close to completion, with analysts expecting it to file its final proposals with the US Securities and Exchange Commission with its annual results on 25 March.

Mr Burdick said: "I have enjoyed my time at the company but it is a time of change and I am leaving to pursue other opportunities."

Mr Elson would take up his role as chief executive on a similar salary as Mr Burdick, the company said yesterday.

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