UPC launches bond programme

LONDON: United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC), the Dutch cable operator, has launched a $1.6bn bond programme, the largest-ever high-yield bond deal from a European company. The rapidly expanding UPC previously raised $1.5bn last July. UPC, now Europe's second largest MSO, is one of the bidders for Deutsche Telekom's cable network, and is seeking to increase its stake in Germany's PrimaCom, which it bought last December. It is also believed to be in the running to buy a share of Belgian cable operator Telenet. The bond was arranged by Donaldson Lufkin Jeanrette.

Studios sue web-caster for copyright breach

TORONTO: Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Columbia-TriStar

Television, Paramount and Time Warner Entertainment were among the studios that last week sued Canada's iCraveTV for broadcasting copyright materials over the Internet. Ian Maccallum, vice president of corporate sales and development for iCraveTV, said that the firm "takes the over-the-air television signals in Toronto and has put them onto the Internet." Jack Valenti, boss of the Motion Picture Association of America, called iCraveTV's activities "one of the most brazen thefts of intellectual property ever committed in the US."

Kinowelt forecasts profit for new channel

MUNICH: Germany's ever-expanding Kinowelt group yesterday said that it expects its yet to be launched commercial TV channel to be profitable in 2003. The statement by Kinowelt's finance boss Eeduard Unzeitig may have been a move to reassure investors who saw Kinowelt shares dip 23% last week after it made the announcement and warned that profit margins in 2001 would be thinner than last year.

Dreamworks issue secures credit rating

NEW YORK: Investor service Moody's has given a Baa3 credit rating to $540m of loans and senior loan notes issued by Dreamworks Film Trust II, a securitisation device. The trust currently holds rights to 13 titles including American Beauty and Galaxy Quest. Other films will be sold into the fund as they are completed. The trust, which does not bear any production risk, earns income from theatrical rentals, video and TV sales, before the recoupment of p&a costs. According to a Moody's spokesman most films are profitable if marketing costs are eliminated.