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Reports: Equity Firms Approach NTL

Rumors of a private equity buyout of cable operator ntl group ltd. (Nasdaq: NTLI) have been reignited in the U.K. press, sending the company’s share price up almost 10 percent -- recouping the losses the stock has made since merging with Telewest Global Inc. (Nasdaq: TWSTY) and Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd. .

According to reports, Providence Equity Partners , The Blackstone Group , Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) , and Cinven Ltd. are negotiating an offer of $30 per share, valuing the potential deal at around $19 billion. The Times reports that the bid, which could come before the week is out, would depend on NTL's share price falling below $24.42

Shares in NTL rose 8.7 percent on the Nasdaq yesterday to close at $26.55, and were trading at $27.17 after the market opened this morning.

Late last year, NTL turned down a private equity bid of $32 per share as being too low. But since then the operator has been faced with a tough integration with Telewest and an increasingly cutthroat broadband market. (See NTL Rolls Out 4-Service Package.) Last week NTL reported disappointing second quarter results, seeing the lowest number of new broadband sign-ups for four years. (See NTL Reports Q2.)

Speculation of a buyout has been swirling around the company for months, part of a wave of equity firms buying out cable operators in Europe.

Last month Cinven teamed up with Warburg Pincus to buy Dutch cable company Casema NV for €2.1 billion ($2.7 billion) and plans to combine it with N.V. Multikabel and Essent Kabelcom BV . (See Equity Firms Take On KPN.) Cinven partnered with Altice to pick up UPC France for €1.25 billion ($1.57 billion), and earlier this year Providence acquired Germany's Kabel Deutschland (See Liberty Completes French Sales and Providence Completes KDG Buy.)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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