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Liberty to make new European move

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Liberty Media Corp is reported to be lining up a bid for NTL Inc's Swiss unit, Cablecom AG. The New York-based European cable operator, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, has pledged to begin the process of selling the Swiss cable operations after Cablecom's bankers had threatened to wreck NTL's restructuring plans. The bankers have provided another SFR 200m ($125m) on top of the SFR 4.1bn ($2.6bn) previously loaned.

Reports claim that John Malone's Liberty Media has offered to buy the company, but that the terms have still to be negotiated. The Englewood, Colorado-based company has made little secret of its European ambitions. Until recently it was in talks with NTL about the possibility of providing a cash injection for a substantial equity stake.

In March, German regulators blocked its bid to purchase the regional businesses of Deutsche Telekom AG because it would not give a financial commitment to upgrade the cable systems to enable high-speed data traffic. The six Telekom regional cable businesses would have given Liberty 10 million subscribers and a majority share of the German cable TV market.

However, Liberty's European expansion plans are still continuing. Earlier in the year, it increased its control of European cable operator United Pan-Europe Communications after the Amsterdam, Netherlands-based company defaulted on debt.

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