Optus denies sales rumors

Shares rise 11% despite possible $34 mil loss this year

SYDNEY — Australian telephone and pay TV player Cable & Wireless Optus has denied media reports its moribund feevee business is on the market for A$200 million ($128 million).

Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper the Australian said the U.S.’s AT&T, Canada’s CanWest and the U.K.’s NTL were investigating buying the loss-making channel operator, which at about 225,000 subscribers lags behind UnitedGlobalCom’s Austar and Murdoch’s Foxtel.

Optus, which shoulders a programming tab of $51 million, is reportedly set to lose $34 million this year, down from $58 million last year.

As telephone and technology stocks surged on the Australian Stock Exchange, Optus shares rose 11% to a record $3.10.

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