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Moody’s upbeat on European cable operators

Cable telecoms companies in Europe have reached an optimum level of leverage after the last two years of restructuring, according to a special report from rating agency Moody's.

The financial restructurings that were completed in 2003 have prompted a revival in investor demand for European cable debt this year. Examples include Kabel Deutschland, which issued $610 million and ?250 million in bonds in June, Tele Columbus, which issued a total of ?575 million in April, and NTL Cable, which issued ?225 million, $525 million and £375 million worth of bonds in March.

Although Moody's cautions that cable companies still have high leverage levels compared to other sectors, reflected in the fact they are all rated in the single-B category, debt is now low enough to enable them to pay interest and fund capital requirements without the speculative growth that was required in previous forecasts.

?Operators have enjoyed a resurgence in debt issuance over the past year on the back of more conservative balance sheets and business plans and the resultant improvement in investor sentiment,? according to the report. Moody's has rated over ?4 billion in new bond issuance and ?7 billion in new bank facilities for European cable operators since December 2003.

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