Microsoft Abandons Euro Cable Stakes

18 February 2002

Microsoft revealed last week that it had significantly reduced its stakes in two of Europe’s cable operators at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Late on Friday, the software titan announced it had offloaded all of its 6.3% stake in pan-European group UPC and reduced its holding in British operator NTL to 1.09% from an undisclosed level believed to be under 3%.

Microsoft has chalked up losses of $800m on the assets, acquired in early 1999. However, the two holdings would have been diluted by debt restructuring schemes underway at both companies.

The American group’s decision is thought to signal the failure of its strategy of investing in cable to provide a new platform for its products. Nevertheless, it retains a 23.6% stake in NTL’s British rival Telewest, purchased for nearly $2 billion in May 1999 but now worth just $120m.

Data sourced from: The Times (London); additional content by WARC staff