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Multicanal still in deep

Co. searching for investors to aid in debt recovery

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine cabler Multicanal, struggling to get creditors to participate in an offer to restructure the $525 million in debt that it defaulted on last year, has extended the deadline to Friday.

The company, owned by local media conglom Grupo Clarin, is offering to repay up to $100 million of its debt at 30% of its original value, without accrued and unpaid interest. Deal also allows creditors to exchange debt for new securities with a longer maturity.

So far, investors holding about 45% of the debt have agreed to the deal, but the company wants at least two-thirds participation.

Multicanal borrowed heavily in the 1990s to buy cable assets, piecing together the second biggest cable network in Argentina. But the country’s 2001 economic collapse cut it off from fresh capital, hampering its ability to repay debt.

Multicanal and its rivals, including market leader Cablevision, owned by Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst and Liberty Media, have lost about one million subscribers since the fourth quarter of 2001. That has cut Latin America’s most cabled market by 20% to about four million subs.

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