UK cable operator NTL's insatiable appetite for acquisition continued today with the purchase of Ipswich based telecomms and radio operator, Eastern Group Telecoms (EGT).
So far in 1998, NTL has expanded its holdings with the acquisition of cable operators Comcast, Comtel and Diamond Cable, as well as Internet TV pioneers Netchannel and most recently a stake in Newcastle United football club.
NTL purchased EGT from its energy company parent Eastern Group, for #91 million in a mixed stock and cash transaction. NTL, which joined the Nasdaq 100 list this week, rose 5.7 per cent to $57.75 today in early New York trading following the announcement.
EGT gives NTL two assets that complement different aspects of its business. NTL gets a 1,800km high capacity Synchronous Digital Hierarchy fibre optic network in the south east of England, to add to its existing SDH network.
NTL also gets 121 radio masts in East Anglia that serve the UK's leading mobile phone network operators. NTL currently operates over 1,200 radio masts in the UK providing coverage for radio and mobile phone services.
"EGT's telecom network completes NTL's network in the south and east, and gives us several additional strategic connections to international cable landing sites," said NTL's chief executive, Barclay Knapp, in a statement.
EGT will retain its 54 employees and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of NTL. NTL will pay #60 million in cash and #31 million in new NTL preferred stock.
Rumours earlier in the day that NTL had purchased a stake in rival UK operator Telewest were flatly denied by both companies. The reports surfaced after French company Vivendi sold its 6.5 per cent stake in Telewest. But the companies said the shares had gone to institutional investors, not NTL.
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