Britain's second largest cable operator Telewest, in which the largest single shareholder is John Malone’s Liberty Media, revealed yesterday it had received an approach from lawyers claiming to represent bondholders.

The firm, Cadwaladers, a specialist in insolvency, is seeking a meeting on behalf of its clients who want to talk turkey about Telewest’s massive £5.3 billion ($7.75bn; €8.22bn) debt – thirteen times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

The names of the bondholders was not revealed and Telewest is demanding to know their identity and what percentage of its bondholders they represent. The company did not, however, rule out a meeting: “We meet shareholders and we meet bondholders all the time,” said a spokesman. “Cadwalader will be treated as any other once we have ascertained who they are acting for.”

Observers believe there could be a link between the mystery bondholder/s and whoever may have bought the 23.5% block of Telewest shares believed to have been unloaded last month by former shareholder Microsoft [WAMN: 16-May-02].

Telewest, meantime, is far from tugging its forelock to the mystery bondholder/s and is reluctant to go down the same road as its larger rival NTC, which last month agreed a £10.6 billion debt for equity swap with its bondholders and banks.

Quoth its defiant spokesperson: “Our future is in our hands. We still have time and we still have cash at the bank.”

Data sourced from: The Times (London); additional content by WARC staff