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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 19:44 GMT 20:44 UK
Rescue deal nears for Bridge News
Bridge website
... and seeking buyers
Agence France-Presse unit AFX news has confirmed its interest in buying Bridge News' Live Wire business in order to expand its corporate news coverage in the US.

The assets of the financial data group Bridge have been up for sale since it filed for bankruptcy in March.

A successful bid from AFX would mean that customers of the news wire - that employs a total of 600 journalists - would win continuity of service.

Bridge says that there are 35 different parties trying to buy the various pieces of the news wire which ran up heavy debts trying to compete with bigger news agencies such as Reuters and Bloomberg.

Improved coverage

"A successful AFX bid will not only ensure the continuity of service to Bridge News clients, it will also have a significant positive effect on the quality and coverage of both products," said Richard Kellett-Clarke, managing director of AFX news.

Reuters won the auction for the data and trading units of Bridge in April with a cash bid of $275m.

And Sun Gard Data Systems services companies has agreed to buy the company's brokerage Bridge Trading for $165m.

Bridge was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March after it struggled to service its bank loans.

Late last year the company owed between $700m and $750m to banks.

Bridge is privately owned. Its largest shareholder, the buyout firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe continues to run the company as it reorganises under Chapter 11.

Formal bids for the remaining assets are due on 20 June.

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