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U.K. gov OKs merger between NTL and CWC

Gaul approval pending

LONDON — The merger of U.K. cable operators NTL and Cable & Wireless Communications has been approved by Britain’s Competition Commission.

Under the $13 billion deal, agreed to in July, NTL will take over CWC’s residential business, consolidating the U.K. cable industry to two players, NTL and Telewest, of which NTL will be by far the larger.

“We are now able to plan ahead with confidence and will be aiming to complete the deal as soon as possible,” said NTL chief exec Barclay Knapp.

Clearance for France Telecom’s involvement in the merger — the telco is investing $4.5 billion and will increase its stake in NTL to about 25% — is still pending. Both NTL and CWC, however, said they expect the deal to close this spring.

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