NTL Sells Aussie unit for $442m

Debt relief

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

NTL Inc, the debt-laden cable operator, is to sell its Australian business to the Macquarie Bank for $442m cash, eliminating $118m of bank debt from its balance sheet and allowing the company to focus on the European market.

NTL Australia's network passes 98% of the country's population, and generated $62m revenue and $27m EBITDA in 2001. The unit also owns a 51% stake in NTLT, a microwave network carrier operated on the east coast of Australia with joint venture partners WIN Television and Southern Cross Broadcasting.

The transaction is believed to be a part of NTL's commitment to restructure the $17bn of debt it currently labors under. Early this month, the company hired Credit Suisse First Boston, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley to help it sort out its balance sheet. Among the possible saviors being touted in the financial press are a debt-for-equity swap, a merger with rival Telewest Communications Plc or investment from Telewest parent Liberty Media Corp.

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