Telewest restructure hits hurdle

Bondholders demand more equity

LONDON – Existing shareholders in U.K. cable operator Telewest could end up with just 1% of the company’s equity following a £3.5 billion ($5.8 billion) debt-for-equity swap after being promised 3% last September.

Company’s bondholders led by U.S. financier William Huff, who also sits on the board of rival NTL, are pressing for a share closer to 99%. Huff, Telewest’s largest bondholder, represents a rebel group of creditors that includes U.S. cable mogul John Malone that control between 10% to 20% of the company’s shares.

The company, which is carrying a total debt of $8.7 billion, has delayed its rescue plan while Telewest, led by chief executive Charles Burdick, struggles to placate rebel investors. Company had planned to present the complete restructuring documentation at last Thursday’s annual meeting. Bondholders must now put forward their equity proposal.

The company said Monday it remained committed to reaching a deal that “balances the interests of all the company’s stakeholders as fairly and equitably as possible.”