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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
NTL 'close to debt deal'
NTL dish
NTL has been given breathing space by bondholders
Debt-ridden cable company NTL is close to agreeing a deal with bondholders which would allow it to escape forced liquidation, reports say.

Banking sources are believed to be on the verge of approving a debt-for-equity swap.

The deal would give bondholders a stake of at least 95% in the company. NTL is expected to make an announcement on the package this week.

The company has been in talks with creditors as it tries to draw up a rescue plan in the face of debts of about $17bn (12bn).

Massive debts

On 1 April, bondholders agreed to allow NTL to withhold $95m (66m) in interest that was due on Monday to give the company more time to come up with a rescue plan.

The cable company had warned that it might run out of money before it could complete its debt restructuring.

NTL ran up its massive debts after a rapid expansion programme in which it built cable networks and bought up other cable companies operating in the UK.

A debt-for-equity swap became more likely on Friday when potential buyer Liberty Media pulled out of talks with NTL.

Under such a deal, most of NTL's $11bn of bond debt could be cleared, leaving it with about $6bn of loans to pay back, but greatly reduced interest payments.

Analysts say NTL would be a viable business, were it not for the massive interest payments pushing it into loss.

See also:

01 Apr 02 | Business
Bondholders give NTL breathing space
03 Apr 02 | Business
Hard-bitten NTL struggles to survive
27 Mar 02 | Business
NTL warns of cash crisis
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