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NTL faces possible £8bn takeover bid by private equity firms

LONDON - NTL, the cable firm that is in the process of merging with Telewest and acquiring Virgin Mobile, is now the target of an £8bn takeover bid by private equity firms.

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The deal was reported by the Sunday Times, which said that a consortium of private equity companies including Cinven, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Permier and Apax Partners have been approaching banks, although the bid is at an early stage.

It says that the addition of Virgin Mobile, which NTL plans to buy in a £817m plus deal, makes the company even more attractive to the private-equity firms.

However, the Independent reports this morning that NTL is preparing to fight the bid and remain a public company, following its merger with Telewest. That merger is due to complete next spring if, as expected, it wins regulatory approval.

NTL would be counting on the support of major shareholder Bill Huff, who will own about 10% of the combined company.

Last week NTL revealed that CEO Simon Duffy was stepping down to be replaced by Stephen Burch, who will oversee the integration of NTL and Telewest.

Burch joins NTL from US cable firm Comcast, while Duffy will become executive vice-chairman following the merger.

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