Japan's Two Largest Cable Operators Mull Merger

TOKYO (04/14/2000) - Japan's two largest cable TV system operators, one of which Microsoft Corp. took a controlling stake in earlier this week, are in talks to merge.

Shareholders of the two companies, Jupiter Telecommunications Co. and Titus Communications Corp., are currently discussing a possible merger, said Masakatsu Morita, a spokesman for leading Jupiter shareholder Sumitomo Corp.

Sumitomo holds a 60 percent stake in Jupiter, with U.S.-based Liberty Media Corp. holding the remaining share. Titus is owned by Microsoft, which has a 60 percent stake, and Toshiba Corp. and Itochu Corp., which each hold 20 percent of the company. Microsoft acquired its interest in Titus earlier this week when it bought the stake from MediaOne International. [See "Microsoft Buys Japanese Cable TV Operator," Apr. 11]A merger would create a cable giant. Jupiter operates networks in 18 service areas, while Titus is in another five directly and another two through affiliated companies. The networks of the two companies are all centered on densely populated urban areas such as those in and around Tokyo and Osaka, rather than provincial cities and rural areas.

Both companies already offer a full menu of cable television services and have been expanding multimedia offerings such as cable Internet and cable telephony services.

Titus Communications, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.titus.co.jp/.

Jupiter Telecommunications, also in Tokyo, is online at http://www.jcom.co.jp/.

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