NTL [NTLI] claims that it will have more cash coming in than going out in 2004.
Britain’s largest cable group emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year after a decade of expansion, funded by billions of pounds in borrowings, came to a grinding halt.
It has dedicated most of 2003 to repairing the damage, starting with a debt-for-equity swap, which cancelled GBP6.3 billion ($10.6 billion) of debt and handed control of the group to bondholders.
There has since been a $1.4 billion rights issue to strengthen its balance sheet. The proceeds from the issue will be used to reduce debt, creating savings of $206 million on interest payments.
The next stage in its recovery will be refinancing long-term debt of $4.6 billion, which must be paid by September 2005.
NTL made the announcement alongside third-quarter results, which showed pre-tax losses clipped from $578 million for the same period last year to $188.9 million.
Revenues for the three months to September 30 rose from $830.3 million to $894.1 million. NTL’s consumer division – which provides telephone, high-speed Internet and television services to UK households – saw its subscriber base rise by 56,200 to 2.8 million.
It reported slowing broadband subscriber growth, with the number of high-speed Internet users increasing 13% to 911,000, against a rise of 16% in the previous quarter, due to a fall in the number of NTL narrowband customers switching to the broadband package.
The group lost 13,000 cable TV subscribers but reported its sixth consecutive quarter of growth in digital TV customers, increasing the number of digital viewers to 1.3 million.
The company is still believed to be in negotiations with BSkyB [BSY] over securing better terms for carrying the pay-TV group’s premium channels.
NTL’s business-to-business unit continued to suffer, with revenues slipping from $119.2 million in the same period last year to $111.8 million.