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March 29, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

NTL, formerly National Transcommunications Ltd, the privatized operator of the 600 transmitters used by Independent Television and Radio in the UK, did not have its independence for long. Mercury Asset Management Ltd bought a 78% stake in the company for funds run by its Mercury Development Capital unit in 1991, with Montagu Private Equity Investment Ltd holding 7% and employees the other 15%. Now the company, which has a license to diversify into telecommunications, is to be acquired by International CableTel Inc, the third-largest UK cable television franchise group, which is paying around 235m British pounds for NTL. This will be the first company of this kind anywhere in the world, CableTel chief executive Barclay Knapp said at the announcement, referring to the fact that with local telephony on its cable, it now has the long-distance facilities to become a third force carrier alongside British Telecommunications Plc and Mercury Communications Ltd. CableTel’s shares trade in New York. As well as becoming its own long-distance carrier, it plans to sell capacity on its new microwave and fiber optic trunk network to cellular telephone operators. We ran this by the regulators and they were enthusiastic, Knapp said. CableTel will invest in NTL’s newly-won 10GHz national telecommunications license, which ultimately will enable it to offer full broadband multimedia services UK-wide. NTL sales last year were 109m pounds and has a total of 57,700 subscribers. NTL will operate as a subsidiary from CableTel’s headquarters in Winchester.

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