Microsoft collects little for Telewest call

The software giant sells its interest in Telewest Communications for a fraction of what it poured into the U.K. phone and Internet service provider.

Microsoft has sold its interest in Telewest Communications for a fraction of what the software giant poured into the U.K. phone and Internet service provider.

IDT bought the software maker's stake for $5 million, a Microsoft spokesman said Wednesday. IDT is a telephone company that resells service from major providers such as WorldCom, Cable & Wireless and Qwest Communications International.

Microsoft purchased a 23 percent share of Telewest in 2000 in exchange for stock valued at $2.6 billion, according to the Microsoft spokesman. The company sold the stake after an "ongoing and regular analysis and realignment of investments," he said.

According to its Web site, Telewest provides television, telephone and Internet service to 1.74 million homes in the United Kingdom, plus voice and data telecommunications to 72,700 businesses. A Telewest spokesman could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

The Telewest investment was among the several that Microsoft made to gain a foothold in the high-speed communications market.

Other Microsoft investments include a $300 million stake in Dutch cable company United Pan-Europe Communications and a $500 million investment in cable operator NTL. The company also invested in Global Crossing, Liberty Media, Canadian cable operator Rogers Communications, Portugal Telecom and a Brazilian cable company.

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