HomeChoice sparks broadband TV bid battle



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BROADBAND television provider HomeChoice is up for sale at about GBP200million and potential buyers, including BSkyB, are understood to have lodged initial bids last week.

The company, previously known as Video Networks and led by chairman and chief executive Roger Lynch, has hired investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston to handle the sale. The bank was initially appointed to raise GBP100million for the firm.

HomeChoice, whose largest shareholder is Microsoft founder Chris Larson, has been a pioneer in delivering television and video services over broadband phone lines.

In November, the company revealed plans for a national roll-out, extending the accessibility of its services, then confined to just 2.4million homes in London, to more than 10million across the country. A national network would give HomeChoice a reach approaching that of all the UK's cable television companies combined.

Last year, HomeChoice doubled its customer base in London to 34,000 after an extensive and expensive advertising campaign.

More than 55 per cent of its subscribers take video, voice and data services, with an average annual revenue of GBP430 each.

In October, BSkyB paid GBP211million for broadband telecoms specialist Easynet, allowing it to offer "triple-play" services - broadband, television and telephony.

BT is also planning a broadband video service.

Source: tmcnet