Cull At Telewest Sees Mass Exit of Independent Directors

03 June 2003

Anthony ‘Cob’ Stenham (71), Telewest Communications’ impeccably establishment non-executive chairman, on Monday led his three fellow independent directors through the corporate revolving door marked ‘golden parachutes’.

Until taking the chair at Telewest, Stenham served fifteen years as an executive director of Unilever and was chairman of global paper giant Arjo Wiggins Appleton until 1997.

Accompanying Stenham were Denise Kingsmill (day job: deputy chairman of the Competition Commission), Anthony Rice (chief executive of Tunstall Group) and Stanilas Yassukovich, chairman of programme-maker Flextech prior to its acquisition by Telewest in 2000.

It is not known if the quartet jumped or were pushed – but the most likely scenario is that their collective departure was a prerequisite for Telewest’s debt-for-equity restructuring, currently in its final stages. This will see the group’s ownership pass into the hands of creditors, presumably eager to install their own non-executive figureheads.

Meantime, Telewest’s three executive board members – ceo Charles Burdick, strategy director Stephen Cook and finance director Mark Luiz, remain in gainful employment.

Under the terms of the refinancing, current shareholders – the largest of which is Liberty Media, the investment vehicle of US cable entrepreneur John Malone – will be left with around three per cent of the equity between them.

Malone, however, also hold a significant slice of Telewest’s sole UK competitor NTL, and observers believe he is busily orchestrating a merger between the two when Telewest’s restructuring is complete.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff