No. 19: NTL

Hook, United Kingdom

Revenue: $3.977 billion

Net loss: $4.543 billion

NTL’s debt stands at $15.6 billion. It has seen its stock price drop 90% in the past year. Its current funding will last till to 2003, but it won’t be cash positive until 2004.

It’s not a pretty picture for the U.K.’s largest cable company, which has ops in Ireland and Switzerland. Chief exec Barclay Knapp says the company won’t need to raise more money, but analysts believe the shortfall could be $1 billion.

Meanwhile, operational figures are improving. Earnings hit a best-ever $160 million in the second quarter of ’01.

Investors would love a merger with fellow Brit cabler Telewest, but opinion is divided over whether it would be possible to restructure debt and bonds in order to do the deal.

NTL, which is 25% owned by France Telecom, has spent much of the past year bedding down its $12 billion takeover of the Cable & Wireless systems. It has laid off 2,300 employees in the past two years and will ax 5,000 more.

It abandoned its $460 million deal for pay-per-view rights to English Premier League soccer, and was forced to postpone a $600 million digital upgrade of its Irish cable systems.

Ad exec Stephen Carter was hired as managing director of its British and Irish operations. The switch to digital has lagged behind satcaster BSkyB, but NTL is up to 757,000 digital subs out of 4.3 million homes passed.

On the broadband front, it has agreed to a joint marketing initiative with cabler Telewest.

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