Liberty Misses Casema Deadline


Liberty Media Corp. missed an Oct. 31 deadline for closing its deal to buy
Dutch cable operator Casema NV from France Telecom.

After that date, either party can terminate the deal.

A filing made by Liberty with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the
United States Oct. 28 noted, 'The acquisition of Casema is subject to customary
closing conditions, including clearance from the Dutch regulatory authorities.
If the closing does not occur by Oct. 31, 2002, we and France Telecom each have
the right to terminate the agreement. We think it is unlikely that the closing
will occur by Oct. 31, 2002, and, as a result, we cannot assure you that we will
be able to close this acquisition.'

The filing prompted speculation in the Dutch press that Liberty would not
move ahead with the deal, but neither party has indicated any plan to walk away
from it. A call to Liberty's press department was not returned.

The delay in the acquisition of Casema is the latest in several setbacks
Liberty has faced in its European plans.

In October, it was revealed that the company would not be among the final
bidders for the German cable assets owned by Deutsche Telecom AG.

And in the United Kingdom, a plan to restructure Telewest Communications plc
by giving bondholders 97 percent of the cable operator's equity would wipe out
most of Liberty's stake in the company.

However, Liberty would continue to hold a stake in Telewest because it owns
about 10 percent of the company's outstanding bonds, according to the
Financial Times, and Liberty seems to be playing a key role in the
Telewest restructuring.

On Oct. 31, Telewest went into technical default on its debts by missing a
payment. But it had been widely expected to miss the payment, and most analysts
viewed the move as a sign that restructuring talks with debt holders were going

According to FT, only one debtor, Crédit Agricole, filed a petition in
court to have Telewest put into bankruptcy so that it could collect a £10.5
million ($15 million) debt.