NTL Nears Debt-for-Equity Deal with Bondholders

08 April 2002

New York-headquartered cable-TV operator NTL, whose operations are mainly UK-based, is nearing a debt-for-equity restructuring which will give its bondholders control of nearly all the company, with an agreement expected as early as this week.

NTL has been in talks with an ‘unofficial bondholders committee’ representing nearly half of its bond investors, and is said to be in sight of a deal that would swap $9 billion (€10bn; £6bn) of bonds for a stake of at least 95%.

However, still under discussion is the scale of the cash injection bondholders will make. NTL wants $500m to keep it afloat through administration, which could last another six months. Some bondholders are believed to be offering considerably less.

Another potential stumbling block are the bondholders whose interests are not represented by the unofficial committee, some of whom want a change of management before any deal. However, this disparate group has yet to come together to issue demands.

Bonds worth $2bn issued by NTL units Diamond and Triangle are not part of the deal; instead, the restructured company will assume these obligations. NTL’s total debts currently stand at $17bn.

If a deal with bondholders is agreed, the firm is expected to apply for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under US law.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff