Debt-laden UK cable group NTL and one of its chief shareholders France Telecom have entered talks with a number of media giants about investing in the cash-strapped company.

Negotiations are believed to be under way with AOL Time Warner, Microsoft (which already has a stake in NTL plus one in rival UK cable firm Telewest), Liberty Media (also owner of shares in Telewest) and Vivendi Universal, though the latter is thought to have shown little interest.

It is unclear whether an investor would gain stock or debt, though reports suggest an investment would only be made if NTL’s $17 billion debt mountain was restructured. Talks are said to be at an early stage, with a decision up to three months away. Any deal would need the approval of bondholders.

France Telecom owns 18% of NTL shares and holds $5bn of convertible bonds.

News source: Financial Times