Telewest buys up NTL stake

TELEWEST, the cable operator, yesterday clinched a deal to take control of Birmingham Cable by buying its rival NTL's minority shareholding in the franchise.

In a long-awaited deal, Telewest will pay a total of pounds 130m for NTL's 27.5 per cent stake in the franchise. The Birmingham agreement (likely to be completed by the year-end) puts a value of almost pounds 1,000 on every one of the 471,000 homes in the franchise.

Meanwhile, the two operators also reached an agreement to resolve their joint ownership of the Cable London franchise. By September next year, NTL must propose a price at which Telewest can purchase its 50 per cent stake in the franchise. However, the agreement also allows Telewest to decide to sell its 50 per cent stake to NTL for the same price.

The deals were triggered when NTL bought Comcast, the US-listed cable operator which set up the joint ventures with Telewest earlier this year. The takeover sparked a change of control clauses in the two franchises which allowed Telewest to move in.

Telewest also confirmed that Tony Illsley, president of Walkers Snack Foods in the UK, is will become its chief executive in the autumn.