TeleWest postpones planned flotation

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TELEWEST, Britain's largest cable television company, has formally postponed its stock market float, which would have valued it at pounds 1.85bn, writes Mary Fagan.

Stephen Davidson, finance director, blamed the weakness in the market. He said that the issue might be resurrected in three months if conditions were right.

TeleWest planned to raise about pounds 400m through a minority listing of its shares, primarily in London but also in New York. The company intended to use the money to complete the building of its television and telephone network. Telewest has already invested pounds 500m and is expected to increase that to pounds 1.25bn over the next few years.

TeleWest's decision echoed General Cable's decision to postpone its float earlier in the week. Although both companies cited weak market conditions, some analysts question whether cable companies are asking too high a price. The postponements have raised doubts over the proposed listing of Bell Cable Media, a joint venture between Cable & Wireless, Bell Canada and Jones Cable. A spokesman for Cable & Wireless refused to comment.

The Cable Television Association said: 'These decisions are no reflection on cable per se. There is no change in the perception of the cable industry.'