Microsoft to Limit Telewest Investment


Brussels, Belgium-The European Commission ended its inquiry into Microsoft Corp.'s investment in British MSO Tele-west Communications plc after the software giant agreed to limit its interest to a minority financial stake, the regulator said.

The EC was investigating the planned purchase, and it could have blocked the deal on the grounds that it would have threatened competition in digital television.

Microsoft will limit its investment to 23.7 percent, and it agreed to "break all structural links with Liberty Media [Group]," another major shareholder in Telewest, the EC said.

Microsoft earlier agreed to buy MediaOne Group Inc.'s interest in Telewest, and it would have had joint control of the company with Liberty.

Microsoft also owns about 3 percent of the United Kingdom's other major MSO, NTL Inc., and about 7.8 percent of United Pan-Europe Communications N.V. (UPC), which has a deal to buy 25 percent of Telewest from Liberty.