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Telewest’s SMG stake up for sale

Shareholding valued at $77 mil

LONDON — Troubled U.K. cabler Telewest plans to sell its 16.9% stake in SMG, owner of the Scottish and Grampian ITV network franchises.

The disposal of the shareholding, valued at roughly £50 million ($77 million), is subject to approval by Telewest’s shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting Sept. 4.

Britain’s second biggest cable operator is moving toward restructuring its $8.1 billion debt load in a debt-for-equity swap. NTL, the U.K.’s no. 1 cabler, has nearly completed restructuring its $17 billion debt.

ITV companies Carlton Communications and Granada have ruled themselves out of buying the SMG stake.

Granada already owns 17% of SMG. Acquiring the additional shares would automatically trigger a takeover under stock market rules, and go against current media ownership restrictions.

Carlton is said not to be interested in a minority shareholding in SMG, which is carrying more than $600 million in debt, more than its current market cap.