London -- The consolidation of the U.K. cable industry
continued last week with word that MediaOne International Holdings Inc. plans to buy out
most of Southwestern Bell International Holdings' stake in British cable operator
Telewest Communications plc for as much as $405 million.
MediaOne has struck a deal with Southwestern Bell's
parent company, SBC Communications Inc., to buy as many as 180 million shares at $2.25
each. The exact number of shares to be bought will be determined later.
MediaOne is expected to emerge from the deal with a 29.99
percent stake in Telewest, and SBC's stake would shrink to 1.28 percent. The
second-largest shareholder in Telewest, Tele-Communications International Inc. (TINTA),
holds 21.6 percent.
Besides SBC selling out the majority of its stake, there
have been long-standing rumors that Cox Communications Inc. will sell its Telewest stake
to MediaOne or TINTA. Cox owns 11.83 percent of Telewest.
MediaOne and TINTA hold their Telewest stakes together as a
combined 51.59 percent ownership in an entity called TW Holdings LLC.