Microsoft is trying to use its #300 million stake in cable operator NTL to get closer to the government, PC Week has discovered.
The software giant is leaning on NTL to buy BT's cable franchise in Westminister, which went up for sale at the end of last year.
According to a spokesman at NTL: "Microsoft views the Westminster franchise as very useful - you couldn't get a higher demographic in terms of the right people to influence."
Microsoft poured #300 million into the cable company in February, but refused to give details on exactly what the money was for. However, it did admit to wanting to speed up the launch of cable and Web TV services in the UK.
BT must divest its broadband cable franchises, which include Westminster and Milton Keynes, in order to take up its stake in BIB (British Interactive Broadcasting).
The European Union ruled that BT would be acting in an anti-competitive way if it kept the cable operations and must sell them before BIB's interactive digital TV services are launched in September.
BT has drafted in Hawk Point, a financial advisor, to narrow down potential buyers and speed up the sale.
An insider at BT told PC Week: "It makes perfect sense for both NTL and Microsoft to be interested in the Westminister business. Microsoft has paid to get a different foothold in the UK and it suits NTL's image-conscious method of doing business - to be seen in the right places. Westminster's the perfect showcase."
A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said she was baffled by the possibility that Microsoft would use its power in this way.
Microsoft refused to comment.
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