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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Chief quits at troubled Telewest
Adam Singer, outgoing Telewest chief executive
Adam Singer: Different management style needed
The boss of debt-stricken cable company Telewest has resigned, following pressure from fellow directors.

Adam Singer, chief executive at the firm since April 2000, has been replaced by finance director Charles Burdick, Telewest has said.

Charles Burdick, incoming chief executive, Telewest
Charles Burdick: New man in charge
"Given our current financial position, the independent directors believe the company needs a different management style to take the business through its next phase," chairman Cob Stenham said.

The shake-up comes the day before Telewest is due to reveal a results statement, and may hand Mr Singer, who had two years left on his contract, a pay-off totalling 1m.

And it follows the collapse of negotiations aimed at a financial restructuring which would have seen Telewest bondholders agree to convert their holdings into shares.

Holiday questions

The deal, similar to a restructuring being implemented at rival NTL, would have reduced interest payments Telewest pays out on debt of 5.3bn racked up as the firm built its cable network.

But many bondholders questioned the proposal after Mr Singer earlier this month went on a cycling holiday with a director at Liberty Media, a US-based investment firm which owns 10% of Telewest bonds and one quarter of its shares.

"[Mr Singer] has to be seen to be impartial," one bondholder told the Daily Mail.

Liberty Media itself pulled out of negotiations two weeks ago.

Bonus furore

Mr Singer also attracted controversy in accepting a 186,000 bonus, on top of a salary of 575,000, despite Telewest's dire performance, and shortly after announcing the loss of 1,500 jobs.

Around 10pc of shareholders at the firm's annual general meeting last month chose not to vote for the re-election of Mr Singer, or Mr Burdick.

Mr Singer told the Sunday Telegraph at the time: "The bonus was all to with last year. We were not in this situation."

Mr Burdick's 170,000 bonus was defended on grounds that he had successfully renegotiated Telewest's banking facilities.

Broad experience

Mr Singer, 50, was appointed head at Telewest on its merger with TV programming company Flextech, where he had been chief executive.

"Together we have the opportunity to seize the future by creating a new type of company for the digital age," he said at the time.

The move represented a renewal of Mr Singer's relationship with Telewest, where he had been a director from 1995-98.

He had earlier been president and chief operating officer at Liberty Media, then called Tele-Communications, and has also worked at United Artists Programming and the BBC.

Mr Burdick had been finance director at Telewest since 1997.

Investor reaction

News of Mr Singer's resignation came shortly before the close of London's stock market, where Telewest shares closed down 0.25p at 2.00p.

The shares topped 560p in March 2000, at the height of the boom.

The BBC's Bella Saer
"The timing of the announcement took everyone by surprise."
See also:

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