NTL buys Swiss cable TV group for $US3.7 billion

TVNZ's prospective digital TV partner NTL has reached an agreement to acquire the Swiss provider of cable TV, telecommunications and Internet service, Cablecom Group, for $US3.7 billion.

TVNZ's prospective digital TV partner NTL has reached an agreement to acquire the Cablecom Group from Swisscom , Siemens Schweiz and VEBA for $US3.7 billion, the company says.

The purchase will make NTL the largest alternative fixed line telecoms operator in the Swiss market, according to the statement. Cablecom is Switzerland's largest cable operator, with 1.4 million subscribers, giving it a 53% share of the market.

NTL will also get Cablecom's ISP SwissOnline, in the deal. SwissOnline currently has 140,000 customers, making it the second largest ISP in the country. Cablecom already has a license to provide data and value-added services, and will submit an application to extend the licenses to voice telephony, the company said.

The network is in the process of being upgraded, with completion in 2003 and over $250 million spent over the last two years.

The acquisition is subject to standard regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2000.

In addition to owning and operating networks in France, NTL is already the largest cable operator in Ireland. It will also be the largest cable operator in the U.K., pending its acquisition of the consumer operations of Cable & Wireless Communications.

NTL, in New York and London, can be reached at +1-212-906-8440 or +44-171-227-8700. It can also be reached on the Web at http://www.ntl.co.uk/.

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