Richard Brown, chief executive of Cable & Wireless, yesterday confirmed that he wants to increase the company?s 52.6 per cent stake in UK joint venture Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), possibly through acquisitions.
Brown made the comments as he formally outlined the structure of the CWC cable company, fuelling speculation that the other two owners, Nynex and Bell Canada, are seeking to pull out of the UK market by selling off their cable interests, perhaps to their existing partner. Other interested buyers are reported to include France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom.
The creation and structure of CWC, originally proposed last autumn, was confirmed this week. The venture is made up of the cable affiliates of Bell Canada and Nynex, which include Bell Cablemedia - owner of Videotron - and Nynex Cablecomms, plus Cable & Wireless? Mercury Communications subsidiary. All the subsidiaries will drop their respective brand names and take the CWC name. Around 1,000 staff out of a combined workforce of 12,500 are expected to be laid off.
Under the current ownership split, the new company will be 52.6 per cent owned by Cable & Wireless, 14.2 per cent by Bell Canada, and 18.5 per cent by Nynex. The remaining 14.7 per cent will be issued as public shares.
The combined force will be the UK?s largest provider of integrated telecomms and television entertainment services and will be listed on the London and New York stock exchanges. It will serve around 1.2 millon telephony customers and 580,000 cable TV viewers.
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