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Just when Cable & Wireless Communications thought it had the title of UK’s biggest cable operator safely installed on its headed notepaper, speculation is mounting about another mega- merger between Telewest Communications Plc (currently the UK’s number two player) and NTL Inc, the Nasdaq listed cable and broadcast services company. C&W Communications originally took the title with its four way merger earlier this year. The deal set new records for complexity and brought 5.4 million homes under one umbrella. But the Telewest/NTL partnership, if it were to go ahead, would create a cable television company connecting seven million homes. Telewest is no stranger to merger speculation, and it was little more than a month ago when chairman Fred Vierra was musing on the possibilities of a full merger with arch rivals Cable & Wireless Communications. Relegation to the number two slot has hurt Telewest’s share price and Vierra admitted that his company is failing to create a strong brand name in the market place. The initial approach for the new deal was made by NTL’s chief executive Mr Barclay Knapp, but Telewest are stressing that talks are still at the very earliest stage. NTL Inc was itself formed from the merger of International CableTel Inc and National Transcommunications Ltd in March 1996. Telewest’s shares were trading up 5 pence on the news at 84 pence.

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CBR Staff Writer

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