BSkyB logs on

Satcaster targets netco Easynet

LONDON — Blighty satcaster BSkyB looks set to strengthen its position against about-to-be merged U.K. cable combo NTL and Telewest by laying out up to $270 million for British Internet provider Easynet.

This will allow the satcaster, topped by James Murdoch, to match the merged entity’s triple play of broadband, video-on-demand and telephone.

A BSkyB spokesman declined to comment, saying only, “We tend to set the pace of change in media content and distribution.”

Easynet, whose first-half revenues surged 12% this year to $138 million, told the London stock exchange it had received an approach from an unnamed potential bidder, causing its stock price to soar by more than 30%.

Last week BSkyB, keen to proof itself against TV being broadcast via the Internet, announced that it had raised $1.8 billion in a bond issue and said that some of the coin could be used for acquisitions.

The satcaster’s Internet ambitions may extend beyond buying Easynet, whose high-speed connections reach around 4.4 million U.K. households. Other potential takeover targets are Pipex and Home Choice.

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