Malone's Liberty to be in driver's seat when talks occur

LONDON — Cash-strapped U.K. cabler Telewest is to start talks with its bondholders and major shareholder Liberty Media on restructuring its £5.3 billion ($8.1 billion) in debt.

A majority of Telewest’s bondholders recently proposed a debt-for-equity swap to see the company out of its troubles (Daily Variety, June 17).

John Malone’s Liberty, a 25% shareholder in Telewest, has so far bought up 16% of the cable operator’s bonds in a bid to be in the driver’s seat when restructuring occurs. In addition, Microsoft is reportedly poised to sell its 24% stake in Telewest to Liberty.

In a letter to shareholders Thursday, Telewest said it was reviewing options but would begin talks once it received the OK from its bankers.

NTL, the U.K.’s other cabler, is restructuring its $17 billion debt. It has long been anticipated that Telewest and NTL will eventually merge.

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