Barclay Knapp, the professional survivor who blazed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy trail for NTL while remaining chief executive of the debt-beset US cable giant, is reportedly ready to sell his entire holding in the company.

His eagerness to sell was revealed in a filing late Friday night to US stock market regulators. At Friday’s closing price Knapp’s 32,600 shares are worth $1.4 million (€1.24m; £0.87m) – although this takes no account of his lucrative share options, details of which the company has yet to share with investors.

It is not known to what extent Knapp’s likely stock sale will impact adversely on the company’s share price. Few onlookers think it likely to inspire confidence.

Although US-owned, NTL trades solely in the UK where it is the nation’s largest cable operator with around 2.71 million customers, it is dwarfed by satellite rival BSkyB which is on course to sign up its seven-millionth subscriber by the year-end.

Despite the massive capital reconstruction that took place while under the shield of Chapter 11, NTL still has an eyewatering $5.8 billion of debt including a $558 million facility that extracts 19% interest. Yet according to bankruptcy court filings made by NTL last fall, the ailing company upped Knapp’s salary in 2002 from $370,000 to $700,000.

His contract expires in December 2003. Should he be dismissed prior to that date (believed unlikely) he will collect a cool $1.4 million as a golden goodbye – twice his basic salary. But if Knapp is fortunate enough to be sacked beyond that date, his payoff rises to three times his basic pay, $2.1 million at current rates.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff