RealTime IT News

NTL to Acquire Stake in European Broadband Company

[London, ENGLAND] NTL announced Monday a partnership with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity to acquire France Telecom's 49.9 percent stake in European broadband company Noos.

The deal will give NTL a 27 percent stake in Noos for $627 million, with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity taking 22.9 percent. Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux will keep its majority holding in Noos of 50.1 percent.

Noos is active in supplying cable TV, telephony and Internet services, and is reported to have around 26 percent of the French cable TV market. In July 2000 it had 0.74 million subscribers and provided high speed Internet access to over 44,000 French homes and businesses.

Barclay Knapp, chief executive of NTL, said the latest investment was a major step in NTL European broadband strategy.

"In Noos, the market leading French broadband company, we now have a strong position to grow revenues from bundled subscriptions to cable TV, Internet and telephony across the whole of France, but most notably in Paris, which represents the majority of the telecommunications market in France," said Knapp.

NTL is financing its purchase by issuing 12-month and 6-year redeemable preferred stock to France Telecom for 80 percent and 20 percent of its share of the equity respectively.

NTL has been aiming to gain a strong position in Europe's largest financial centers, namely London, Franfurt and Paris, while also establishing a key presence to serve what it calls "Europe's most buoyant economy" (Ireland) and "Europe's wealthiest population" (Switzerland).

The stake in Noos brings exceptional strength in France's core market, the Greater Paris area, which contains no less than 28 percent of the whole French population.

Noos operates a fully digital 860Mhz hybrid fiber coaxial cable (HFC) network with over 16,000 kilometers of coaxial and around 4,000 kilometers of fiber cable. Recently it secured long term access rights to underground ducts to enable network upgrades.