NTL is reported to be ready to halt the sale of its broadcast mast network, even though it is struggling to reduce crippling debts of £12bn in the face of insolvency.
The cable operator had hoped to cut bank debts of £5bn, and £7bn of bonds, with the sale of the mast business to France Telecom, which has a 24 per cent stake in the company.
But the sale of the transmission masts, which represent 40 per cent of NTL's earnings, now looks unlikely to raise more than £1bn, less than half the value NTL puts on it.
The company's board is meeting today (17 December) in New York and a statement is expected to follow. NTL maintains that it will update investors on disposal before Christmas.
A further 2,000 jobs were cut at the firm last week, taking the total for the year to 8,800. Salaries have been frozen, and spending cut back.
This comes after a 76 per cent fall in its shares since the end of November. NTL is now valued at less than $200m, compared with a high of over $30bn in January last year.
Analysts estimate that the company's cash could run out by the middle of next year at current burn rates, and are advising it to should seek Chapter 11 protection.
NTL, which owns stakes in British soccer clubs Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Celtic, has struggled to compete against market leader BSkyB.
A spokeswoman told vnunet.com that the board meeting had been scheduled since January, and that the company would not comment on "speculation".
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