Having bought a 20% stake in Mercury Communications Ltd from Cable & Wireless Plc, BCE Inc is now invading the US cable and communications market through its BCE Telecom International Inc unit, which has signed a letter of intent to acquire a 30% stake in Jones Intercable Inc for $275m after Jones completes the purchase of Jones Spacelink Ltd. BCE Telecom will pay $55m for an option to buy control of 75% of the board after eight years. It has also agreed to contribute up to $125m to future equity financings, increasing the original investment to $400m as Jones continues to grow through acquisitions. Jones Intercable, based in Englewood, Colorado, is among the top 10 cable television system operators in the US, with 1.3m subscribers in 55 cable systems. Its major markets are Illinois, Florida, California and the Washington DC area. BCE and Jones already are partnered on cable television systems and local telephone service here in London. Jones Intercable is controlled by Jones International Ltd, run by founder Glenn Jones, who says he took BCE as a partner to fund the major investments in new kit that the multimedia revolution will need. Since BCE doesn’t own any other US cable interests or offer phone service, they have no divesting to do and no turf to protect, Jones told Dow Jones & Co. Under the deal, BCE will also pay $23m for a 15% stake in Jones Education Networks and 50% of Jones Lightwave Ltd.