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NTL announces double losses in Q3

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Cable company NTL has released its third-quarter results and lost nearly two per cent of its share price as the extent of its losses became clear.

NTL is a company that could only exist in the crazy post-Web world of financing. Q3 earnings rose $27.5 million (£19.3 million) to $91.9 million (£64.6 million). But then it managed a loss of $770.3 million, more than double the loss it made in the same quarter last year.

The huge loss is down to its heavy acquisitions, the company said. In the last year, it has bought out businesses all over Europe in a bid to secure itself a large customer base. The loss comes from interest on debt, depreciation and the old intangible asset write-off.

Let's have a look at this debt. NTL, with an annual turnover (extrapolating from the Q3 results) of around $3 billion, has debts of $12.5 billion - most of it from C&W's joyful handover of its consumer business for $11.9 billion. This amounts to a debt interest in this quarter of $281 million - over a third of its turnover. It paid half of this in cash, the rest in bonds. Gearing - we've heard of it.

In fact, so hungry is NTL for hard cash that it moved from Nasdaq to the New York Stock Exchange to get its hands on more of it. It is still talking about more acquisitions this year.

NTL has taken a bit of a hit this year - as have many other cable companies - with its share price dropping 61 per cent. The company wasn't to be drawn on how much money it reckoned it could save through its sacking of 1,300 UK staff, announced last week. ®

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