Telewest set for General Cable deal

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The Independent Online
TELEWEST Communications is close to completing an agreed pounds 666m acquisition of General Cable, in a further step towards the consolidation of the British cable industry.

Telewest announced yesterday that "merger discussions between the two companies are at an advanced stage, which may result in a recommended offer being made." General Cable said it would "recommend the proposed offer if made."

The cash and shares offer ends months of speculation about General Cable's fate. UK rival Cable & Wireless Communications merged with a number of UK cable companies last year, leaving Telewest, General Cable and NTL as the remaining independent players.

Analysts said the Telewest deal would put it back in a market leading position, and leave NTL still needing a merger partner of its own.

Stephen Davidson, chief executive of Telewest, said: "This is a crucial step in development of the industry and puts Telewest back in position. We are the natural partner for these businesses." Telewest said General Cable's 40 per cent shareholder General Utilities Holdings, a unit of French group Compagnie Generale des Eaux, had agreed to an offer pitched at 1,243 new Telewest shares and 65p in cash for every General Cable share.