NTL, the ailing US-listed firm that is Britain’s biggest cable-TV operator, has unveiled a massive debt restructuring scheme.

The group’s chief executive Barclay Knapp announced it would “commence the process of recapitalising the company, which includes negotiating with the bondholders and other constituents.” The programme is expected to take up to six months.

NTL – which owes around $17.5 billion – has also brought in Credit Suisse First Boston, J P Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley to “advise on strategic and recapitalisation alternatives to strengthen the company's balance sheet and reduce debt.”

Knapp admitted for the first time that the firm has been in talks with possible new investors, rumoured to include AOL Time Warner, Liberty Media and Microsoft [WAMN: 18-Jan-02].

However, he denied speculation that NTL’s cash resources would run dry or that it would default on bond payments, also insisting that the cable company would meet earnings targets for its fourth quarter.

News sources: Wall Street Journal; The Times (London)