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The long-awaited merger between NTL and Telewest appears to be on, according to The Sunday Times.

The UK's two cablecos are lining themselves up for a £5.5bn merger creating a comms company that would be able to take on satellite TV giant Sky and dominant UK phone outfit BT, the paper reports.

NTL has already hired its bankers for the proposed merger while Telewest is said to be heading to the US this week to chose its advisors. Execs at Telewest gave the proposed merger the thumbs up last week, according to the paper.

Should the deal go ahead this time round - and let's be honest, we've been marched up this hill plenty of times before - it would create a company with annual revenues of around £3.3bn and some 5m punters.

Predictably, no one at either NTL or Telewest was prepared to comment on what both companies described as "rumour and speculation".

Neither was a spokeswoman for NTL prepared to comment on reports today that it is close to flogging its cable business in Ireland.

UnitedGlobalCom (UGC) is still looking favourite to snap up the business even if it does pass through the hands of a thirty party beforehand.

In March NTL said it was "evaluating strategic alternatives for our business in the Republic of Ireland, which may include a divestiture" and reported that prospective buyers had already expressed "considerable interest".

NTL Ireland offers digital and analogue cable TV to homes in Dublin, Waterford and Galway and broadband in parts of Dublin. ®

Related stries

French cableco front runner to buy NTL Ireland
Broadband gods smile on Telewest
NTL hits copper trail to ADSL2+
NTL completes £1.27bn sale of broadcast division

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