Television cable company NTL today announced it has agreed to
buy Switzerland's Cablecom Group for about $3.7 billion, part of its continued bid to gain a dominant position in the European cable market.
Cablecom, which is owned by Swisscom, Siemens Schweiz and Veba, is Switzerland's largest cable operator, with about 1.38 million subscribers--or 53 percent of the Swiss cable market.
Today's acquisition is NTL's latest aggressive move to try to seize the
rapidly growing and consolidating European cable market.
summer, NTL, a U.S.-based Nasdaq-traded company but with most of its assets in
Europe, outbid Telewest Communications, one of the United Kingdom's major cable TV
companies, for the cable television business of Cable & Wireless
Communications. With the C&W acquisition, NTL will be the largest cable
operator in the United Kingdom, competing with British Telecommunications and British
European cable operators are beginning to compete to bring high-speed
Internet services to market.
"In terms of our overall European strategy it is particularly important to
have acquired a network at the very heart of Europe, and Cablecom is one of
Europe's premier communications assets," Barclay Knapp, NTL's chief
executive officer, said in a statement.
NTL said that Cablecom recently launched digital television and high-speed
Internet services. The company also owns SwissOnline, the second largest
ISP in Switzerland.
New York-based NTL will acquire the cable assets of Cablecom together with its
subsidiaries. Part of the purchase price will take the form of the
assumption or discharge of Cablecom's debts.
The acquisition is subject to certain regulatory reviews and is expected
to close some time in the first quarter of 2000, NTL said.
NTL said it has reached agreements with investment banks Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter and Chase Manhattan Bank to finance $2.3 billion of the purchase
price for the transaction.
Shares of NTL closed 5.62 percent higher on Friday at 119.75. The stock
has traded as high as 123 and as low as 40.19 during the past 52 weeks.