NTL buys stake in Swedish cabler

U.K. cabler takes 25% of B2, sets interactive fund

LONDON — U.K. cable operator NTL has picked up a 25% stake in Swedish cable company Bredbandsbolaget (B2), a deal believed to be worth about $150 million.

The move extends NTL’s reach in Europe — last year, the cabler acquired networks in Ireland and Switzerland –and also gives NTL access to B2’s ground-breaking broadband technology. Sweden leads in rolling out broadband in Europe.

B2 chairman Jonas Biggersson described NTL as “a strong partner” for the company’s expansion plans, in particular moves into the German and Italian markets. He added that NTL will supply B2 with “a wide range of content and service providers.”

Interactive fund

NTL has also announced it is setting up a $40 million fund for makers of interactive programming. The cash, to be dispensed over five years, is intended for those in the British TV industry looking to produce interactive entertainment.

NTL is in the process of taking over the residential business of Cable & Wireless Communications, a deal that has just received CWC shareholder approval but still needs regulatory clearance.

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