MediaOne ups Telewest stake

$405 million to switch hands in deal

LONDON — MediaOne Intl. plans to buy 8.4% of Southwestern Bell’s 9.7% stake in U.K. cable operator Telewest for $405 million, a move that would make MediaOne the largest shareholder in the cabler.

MediaOne — formerly known as U.S. West — would have a 29.99% stake, just short of the 30% that would require the telco to launch a full takeover. Cable TV giant Tele-Communications Intl., however, also holds 21.6% of Telewest and retains the right to increase its stake, possibly by splitting Southwestern’s shares with MediaOne.

Acquiring the shares will reassert MediaOne and TCI’s majority control of Telewest, the U.K.’s second biggest cable com-pany. Their stake — jointly held through TW Holdings — was diluted by Telewest’s $1.09 billion takeover of French-owned operator General Cable.

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