NTL linking Bavaria

U.K. cabler may join deal on state system

BERLIN — British cable group NTL is reportedly set to join an investment consortium that is exclusively negotiating to buy Bavaria’s cable system from Deutsche Telekom.

NTL would replace telecommunications company Viag Interkom, which backed out of the group before a final deal was signed.

Consortium members, which include HypoVereinsbank, DB Investor and Bayerischer Landesbank, have been looking for a new partner with the technical know-how to head the upgrading of the system.

Interkom turned off

Although Viag Interkom has not officially announced its exit from the consortium, Bavarian state minister Erwin Huber has confirmed that the British telecom subsid is out of the group — “something I very much regret, because 15 months of preparations have resulted in nothing,” he told Financial Times Deutschland. The state of Bavaria holds stakes in several of the consortium’s participating banks.

Huber did not confirm whether NTL would be coming into the consortium but did say the group was talking to a number of domestic and foreign parties.

Coin to upgrade

Telekom is selling a 75% stake in the cable system for an estimated DM3 billion-DM4 billion ($1.36 billion-$1.8 billion). The consortium will finance the aging system’s digital upgrade, which would allow for high-speed Internet access, video-on-demand and telephony. With 2.5 million households and 900,000 direct customers, the Bavarian cable franchise is Germany’s second largest.

A provisional agreement has already been signed and, according to FT Deutschland, the final deal is all but done.

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