No. 39: Telewest

Woking, United Kingdom

Revenue: $1.53 billion

Loss: $988 million

Since Telewest renegotiated a $2.25 billion bank facility earlier this year, the British cable company has boasted of being fully funded to the point of break-even. That’s why Telewest’s stock price has been hammered less heavily than that of fellow Euro cablers NTL and UPC in recent months.

But that’s not to say that Telewest, 24% owned by Microsoft and 25% by Liberty Media, has had an easy time of it.

Chief exec Adam Singer has undoubtedly raised Telewest’s game in terms of marketing and customer service, but U.K. cable in general has a long way to go to catch up with rival, satcaster BSkyB. Broadband and video-on-demand are seen as potential killer applications, but they have been slow to arrive.

Bob Fuller, chief exec of the company’s cable division, recently quit after just eight months on the job.

Its debt stands at $6.3 billion; its market value is around $2.5 billion. TV service reaches 1.3 million homes, of which just under 600,000 take the full digital service. Telephony is a bigger business, reaching 1.6 million homes.

Investors would like to see Telewest merge with NTL, the U.K.’s largest cabler, to present a united challenge against BSkyB.

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