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Cablecom announces financial rescue plan

Switzerland's largest cable television company, Cablecom, has announced a deal aimed at guaranteeing its survival.

The Zurich-based company said on Thursday that its debt of SFr3.8 billion ($2.85 billion) would be cut to about SFr1.7 billion under the terms of the accord.

Cablecom has arranged a refinancing package with its creditors which will effectively hand ownership of the company over to the banks.

The company, owned since March 2000 by the British/American NTL company, is part of NTL Europe.

One of the terms of the deal is that the company's creditors will acquire all the company's share capital, with NTL Europe's remaining interest being acquired by some members of the new shareholder group.

Another part of the plan is a capital increase, guaranteed by the new owners.

Subject to conditions

The proposed financial restructuring is subject to various conditions, including the negotiation, completion and execution of definitive documentation.

A statement said that although the board of directors could give no assurances, it remained "optimistic" that a definitive restructuring would be completed shortly.

Cablecom announced that its creditors had agreed to a moratorium on the payment of interest, allowing it to operate on a positive cash flow basis until documentation was completed.

It added that the company could once again focus all its attention on and invest in its core businesses - radio and television, high-speed Internet and the introduction of a digital phone service.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

About 85 per cent of all Swiss households are connected to a cable network.
The market is shared by some 450 cable network companies, of which Cablecom is the largest operator.
About 1.5 million homes are connected to the Cablecom network.

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