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EDITIONS
Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 17:33 GMT
NTL close to bankruptcy exit
ntl logo
Struggling cable TV and telecoms firm NTL has unveiled slightly higher earnings and said it should emerge from bankruptcy by the end of November.

New York-based NTL sought temporary protection from creditors under US Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws in May, buying time to push through a life-saving financial overhaul.

The restructuring exercise, which will see the firm's major bondholders swap about $10.9bn in debt for a controlling stake in the company, is now close to completion.

"We've all but buttoned up the final terms," said NTL chief executive Barclay Knapp.

"We're confident we've got the best deal going forward."

Fresh cash

The overhaul includes plans to split the company into two parts, one focused on its core operations in the UK and Ireland, and the other taking over its businesses on mainland Europe.

It should also secure an extra $500m (320) in financing from some of the company's bondholders.

NTL had originally hoped to seal the deal and emerge from Chapter 11 last month.

The company on Thursday reported that profits before tax, interest payments and financial charges had risen to 182m in the July to September period, up from 174m during the previous three months.

The company's stronger bottom line reflected a bout of intensive cost cutting which has claimed about 8,000 jobs over the past two years.

More jobs axed

The firm said on Thursday that it wanted to cut a further 250 jobs, adding that the lay-offs would be spread across its operations.

However, the company's sales fell to 617m from 627m during the same period last year, reflecting a dip in telecoms subscriptions by major corporations.

NTL is based in New York but has all its operations in the UK and Continental Europe.

It borrowed heavily to build its cable network during the late 1990s, and then found it difficult to service its debts as the economy began to slow two years ago.

The UK's other main cable TV and telecoms operator, Telewest, ran into similar problems, and is now also in talks with creditors over a financial restructuring.

There has been speculation that the two firms could merge once they have resolved their financial difficulties.

See also:

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