Europe's cable-TV companies – and in particular those in Britain and France – could find themselves on the receiving end of a takeover bid by AOL Time Warner.

In an interview with French business title Les Echos, the media mammoth's chairman Steve Case revealed the group intends to enter the European cable market. However, he added that no such moves would be made in Germany, following the regulatory block on Liberty Media's purchase of Deutsche Telekom's cable-TV systems [WAMN: 26-Feb-02].

"In prohibiting the purchase of the cable activities of Deutsche Telekom by Liberty Media, the regulatory authorities have closed the market," he opined. "Since that market is for the moment neither open, nor competitive, we are looking rather at the options in Great Britain, in France and in other countries."

There are just two major players, both saddled with huge debts, in the UK cable-TV market: NTL and Telewest. French options include Noos (owned by Morgan Stanley, French group Suez and NTL) and Canal Plus unit Numericable.

The hunt for acquisitions is part of a bid to expand AOL TW's non-US operations: "We are a global company and we want to raise the share of our sales achieved overseas from 20% to 50% by internal growth and by acquisitions," Case declared.

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