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EDITIONS
Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
KPNQwest's network could close
KPNQwest's network
KPNQwest's bankers are keen to keep the lights on
Europe's largest fibre-optic data network, which is owned by bankrupt KPNQwest, could be forced to close down on Tuesday.

KPNQwest's administrators have set a Monday night deadline for the firm's trustees to raise enough cash from its customers to keep the network running.

Many of KPNQwest's customers have thrown their weight behind the rescue operation and some have already paid or offered to pay outstanding bills immediately, a source close to the administrators said.

But the Dutch telecoms company KPN, which owns 40% of KPNQwest, has said it would only pay its 23m euros (14.88m; $21.74m) debts to the subsidiary if other creditors were to do the same.

"If KPN were to pay what they owe then we would have enough money to keep the network up," the source said.

"But KPN's support so far has been cosmetic at best."

Alternative provider

IF KPNQwest - which at some stage had a market value of 42bn euros - can meet the Monday night deadline, the trustees would aim to keep the network operating at least until the end of the month.

This would buy time that would be spent in search of a buyer for the business.

"It's in everybody's interest to keep the network running," a KPN spokesman said.

But the company did not appear confident that a solution would be found.

On Friday, KPN lined up the UK's Colt Telecom as an alternative network supplier for its customers.

Value at risk

KPNQwest's bankers have been keen to keep the network afloat after it collapsed under the weight of its debts last week.

The firm's value would dwindle if it was to close down, leaving less to repay debts to the banks.

Share holders and bond holders are expected to lose all their investments in KPNQwest.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rachel Smith
"Overcapacity and too many providers are causing major headaches in the sector"
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