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NTL and Telewest Merger Rumored Again

Could the fickle romance between the U.K.'s largest cable operators be heating up again? Rumor has it that NTL and Telewest are once again considering a merger, an idea that has percolated for at least 20 months. This time they may actually seal the deal, now that both companies, which share many of the same creditors, have emerged from bankruptcy. Both cable companies offer a 'triple play' bundle of video, data and voice services. Telewest counts a total of 1.75 million residential customers, while NTL counts just over 3 million. Together, the company would command a 25% share of the U.K. pay TV market and more than 40% of the residential broadband Internet business. The companies hope a merger would reduce operating costs and increase their marketing power versus rivals BSkyB and BT. NTL announced its third quarter operating results last week, while Telwest is set to do so tomorrow. In Q3 NTL increased its broadband Internet subscriber count by 94,100 to 1.1 million, while its on-net telephone customer base grew by 18,500 to 2,592,400. NTL's digital television customers increased by 15,200 to 1,414,700, although its overall television subscriber base declined by 3,300 to 2,056,100.
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