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NTL to restructure $17 billion debt

AOL-TW, Microsoft, Liberty could be interested

LONDON — Troubled U.K. cabler NTL is poised to announce a restructuring of its £12 billion ($17 billion) debt burden.

The move, beginning with the expected appointment of Credit Suisse First Boston, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley as advisors, could lead to NTL exchanging $8 billion of its debt for shares and a possible cash infusion.

The restructuring will take at least half a year, and the companies that may be interested in boarding NTL include AOL Time Warner, Microsoft and John Malone’s Liberty Media, which is a major shareholder in Telewest (25%), Britain’s other cable operator.

NTL has seen its stock price plunge over the past year on investor worries that it can not pay down its debt and could run out of funding in 2003, well before it reaches its break even point.