Telewest has eyes for General Cable

U.K. cabler's $1 bil bid betters NTL rival

LONDON — Telewest, the U.K.’s second-largest cable company, is reportedly poised to make a $1 billion takeover bid for General Cable, the country’s fifth-largest operator.

Such a move would better a believed $920 million offer already tabled by NTL, No. 3 in Brit cable. Telewest is said to have previously made a bid that was rejected as too low by General’s main shareholder, France’s Compagnie General des Eaux (40%).

Telewest is also planning to exercise an option to acquire two local franchises — in London and Birmingham — that are part of Comcast, another cable operator that is being taken over by NTL in an agreed deal for $610 million.

With both the local franchises and a successful bid for General, Telewest would pass Cable & Wireless Communications and become the No. 1 cabler in Britain.

Because both Telewest and NTL are comparatively strapped for cash, however, both bids likely include shares, meaning General’s decision on which bid to accept will be based on the perceived future prospects of Telewest and NTL.

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