An announcement about a possible merger of U.K. cable companies NTL ( NTLI) and Telewest Global ( TLWT) could come as early as Monday, according to news reports Sunday.
The deal would be valued at about $6 billion, with NTL expected to pay more than $23 a share in cash and stock, according to The Wall Street Journal. About 70% of the agreement is expected to be in cash, the newspaper said. Speculation about such a merger has surfaced before as a way to create a company that could better compete with rivals, particularly Rupert Murdoch's satellite TV company, BSkyB. If the merger does take place, the combined company would dominate the cable industry in the U.K. The two companies boomed during the Internet bubble of the late 1990s, but accumulated overwhelming debt acquiring smaller competitors and expanding their networks. In May 2002, NTL filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S., and emerged from protection in January 2003. Telewest restructured its business in 2004. Shares of NTL closed as $66.80 on Friday; Telewest closed at $22.95.