US cable giants agree $60bn link-up
Tuesday 23 March 1999
The agreement, the costliest ever struck in the industry, turned the spotlight on two British companies part-owned by MediaOne - One2One, the mobile phone company, and Telewest Communications, Britain's second-biggest cable company by sales.
Comcast, based in Philadelphia, and MediaOne combined will be an industry heavyweight, well placed to offer not just television channels but also Internet and telephone services. It will have broadband access to 18 per cent of US homes. Its biggest rivals will be Time Warner and AT&T, which recently completed its buyout of cable giant TeleCommunications.
Speculation spread yesterday that the deal could trigger further consolidation in the British communications sector. MediaOne has a 29.9 per cent stake in Telewest it could be tempted to sell, analysts said. It also owns half of One2One with equal partner Cable & Wireless.
The future of Telewest may be doubly unclear as another of its owners, with 21.6 per cent, is TeleCommunications, that is now part of AT&T. As a result, as much of 51 per cent of Telewest could be up for grabs.
Yesterday's developments could also herald a public offering for One2One. "The net result may be that Telewest is bid for either by NTL or Cable & Wireless Communications," said John Tysoe, telecoms analyst at SG Securities. "The whole industry is looking for some kind of consolidation. This is only the beginning."
There was no indication from MediaOne yesterday that it intended baling out of either One2One or Telewest. Even so, the marriage to Comcast means that the contribution to revenues from international operations will shrink from 20 per cent, as it is now for MediaOne, to 10 per cent.
Comcast has wide interests in the US, including a 57 per cent stake in QVC, the home shopping network, as well as holdings in the E! and Golf channels and two Philadelphia sporting franchises. Among the owners of Comcast is Microsoft. Bill Gates paid $1bn for an 11.5 per cent stake in Comcast in 1997.
The cable industry is banking heavily on its ability to break into the fast-growing Internet market. Its broadband networks have an advantage over telephone lines as they can deliver sound and moving pictures more quickly.
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...
$125 - $175 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior Wealth Manager In...
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...